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13 get life terms for Valenzuela bank heist.

The Valenzuela City Regional Trial Court (RTC) has sentenced 13 people to life imprisonment for robbing a bank and killing a police officer and wounding several others 13 years ago.

Judge Lilia Mercedes Encarnacion Gepty of Valenzuela RTC Branch 75 found the following guilty of robbery with homicide, without eligibility for parole: Bunny Servilla, Joel Mendoza, Alex Adriano, Zaldy Mangalindan, Alejandro Gaudan, Reynaldo Bustamante, Benjie Adicer, Zaldy Selim, Ricky Cabatsa, Rolly Fernandez, Melvin Lacson, Chris Ablas and Nilo Ocenar.

The court also ordered them to pay damages worth P350,000 each to the families of PO1 Victor Zabala and Baltazar de Gula, who were killed in the shootout following the robbery.

They must also pay P150,000 each to Chief Insp. Rhoderick Juan and PO1 Fernando Mariano, who were wounded in the encounter. Juan was also awarded an additional P270,872.59 for his hospital expenses.

The verdict established that the 13 men conspired to rob a Banco de Oro branch in Dalandanan, Valenzuela City, on Dec. 14, 2004, and took about P330,000 in cash and valuables from the bank and some of its clients.

As they escaped in two vans via Paso de Blas, the robbers encountered the police team responding to the incident.

PO2 Victor Zabala of Valenzuela Police Community Precinct 5 was killed while his commander, now Chief Insp. Rhoderick Juan, sustained four gunshot wounds and was also hurt in a grenade explosion.

Also killed was a bystander, De Gula. PO1 Mariano and TV reporter Doland Castro, who was then covering the encounter, were also wounded in the fusillade.

The robbers then split up and hid in separate compounds in the area, where they were cornered and arrested by another police team.

The 13 pleaded not guilty when arraigned, claiming prosecution didn't have enough proof that they acted in concert to rob the bank.

But the court ruled: 'Their coordinated approach and the fact that they fought back against the responding police officers show that they are more than resolved not only to rob but to kill anybody who stands in their way.'

Banco de Oro will also receive a total of P250,603 in damages from the convicts, the decision said.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Jan 19, 2018
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