MANILA, Philippines - At least one tourist has been robbed in Ermita each day over the past several months, according to figures from the Manila Police District (MPD) General Assignment Section (GAS).
“A conservative estimate will place the number of complaints of tourists being victimized at the Ermita district between one and two cases a day. There are days when there are none, but there are days when it is even higher,” an MPD-GAS official, who refused to be named, said.
The official said while the MPD is trying to curb crimes in the district, “it is the jurisdiction of Station 5 so they should really be visible in there.” Other insiders suspect that the Station 5 police officers could be coddling robbers and snatchers.
The official said three tourists went to the MPD-GAS office last Monday – a day after a Czech man reported being drugged and robbed by four women he met in Binondo – to complain that they had been robbed, and this is becoming a typical day for their unit’s investigators.
Australian Gordon Whittle, 67, was at the MPD-GAS at around 9 a.m. to report that two men on a motorcycle snatched his Filipina girlfriend’s P18,000 necklace along Arquiza street, a few blocks from the MPD Station 5.
Whittle said they tried to fight off the robbers but they were simply overpowered. He said the two men stared them down before riding their motorcycle.
At around 1:30 p.m., Russian engineer Sergey Sokolov, 26, reported that three men and a woman snatched his belongings when he was at Baywalk. He suffered bruises and contusions. Two of the suspects – Joel Ganadores, 34; and Janella Cosio, 46 – were arrested while their companions escaped.
At around 9 p.m., Irishman Dermont Coogen, 65, reported to GAS investigator Police Officer 3 Gilbert Isole that he lost his iPod 4 to one set of robbers earlier that day and was walking around to pass the time when two women approached him and asked for food.
He said he brought the women to a convenience store and bought them food and drinks. When they stepped out of the store, six people – ranging in age from 20 to 23 – ganged up on him and took his wallet, which contained P5,000 and £1,500.
All three tourists said they visited the country in response to the Department of Tourism’s “More Fun in the Philippines” campaign, but added that they were disappointed and vowed never to return.
Last June 20, two police officers assigned at the MPD Station 5 in Ermita were charged with violating the anti-human trafficking law in relation to the law on child abuse. Senior Police Officer 1 Albert Tec and Police Officer 1 Jeffrey Sumarco were accused of coddling robbers and pickpockets, mostly minors, in the Ermita area but they denied the charges. - By Rey Galupo