The city police office has filed charges against three individuals who were believed to be responsible for robbing a couple in Barangay San Jose and a retired teacher in Brgy. San Miguel of cash and other valuables in March and April, respectively.
Harvey Francisco Balanza and two others who remain at large were charged with two counts of robbery on May 13, according to a statement released to the media on Monday by the Puerto Princesa City Police Office (PPCPO) through its spokesperson, P/Lt. Col. Salvador Tabi.
In a separate interview, PPCPO chief P/Col. Roberto Bucad said that Balanza was apprehended on May 5 in Brgy. Bancao-Bancao during an anti-illegal drugs buy-bust operation.
When his identity was further checked, investigators noted that he resembled one of the two suspects in the April 21 robbery of retired teacher Norberta C. Paredes (not Norberta P. Camillo as earlier reported) along MP Road in San Miguel. He was recognized based on the CCTV footage that was collected from the area.
“Noong naareesto namin siya nang May 5, sa illegal drugs buy-bust operation, nag-file na kami agad ng case sa kanya. Right after ng election noong May 9, dahil nga na-focus tayo sa election. So, after nyan, may mga personnel tayo ng Police Station 1 na naka-identify na may pagkakahawig ang suspek sa mga kuha ng mga CCTV mula sa mga robbery incident dito sa Puerto Princesa,” Bucad said.
“Admitted siya, kusang umamin ang suspek natin, at nagbigay siya ng extrajudicial confession, at sinabi niya na may dalawa pa siyang kasama na inaalam pa namin,” he added. Balanza is reportedly from Manila who traveled to Palawan to live in Quezon town.
He claimed that verification and presentation to the victims were carried out till it was confirmed and the suspect admitted his involvement in the two incidents.
The statement also said that on cross-matching completed by the ballistics officer of the Forensic Unit (formerly the Crime Laboratory), the caliber 45 empty shells recovered from the two robberies were fired from the same firearm.
“Wala tayong nakuhang baril sa kanya, pero isa yan sa mga tinututukan natin. Nagpaputok sila ng baril at alam naman natin na hanggang ngayon ay effective pa din ang gun ban. Isa pa yan sa iniimbestigahan natin. Kung possible siya na sampahan nyan,” said Bucad.
Mark Anthony A. Caadan and Neneth G. Saguban were robbed by two suspects on March 12 at 10:20 p.m. in front of their store on Tiansuy Go Road in Brgy. San Jose. The suspects stole approximately P500,000 in cash and two mobile phones with GCash load totaling nearly P100,000.
On April 21, Paredes was robbed of P10,000 and other personal belongings while she was buying something at a sari-sari store on MP Road in Barangay San Miguel, Puerto Princesa City. The incident happened around 11:25 a.m. near the entrance gate of the Tactical Operations Wing West.
She told the police that the men, armed with a handgun, took her sling bag, which contained the money. One of the suspects fired twice at the ground before fleeing on a gray Honda scooter towards the North National Highway.
Meanwhile, the Police Provincial Office (PPO) would look into Balanza because of similarities in robberies reported in Narra, Rizal, and Quezon, according to provincial director P/Col. Adonis Guzman.
“Nasa investigating and validating [kami] ng involvement ng suspek na arrested ng City PNP natin kung [may] koneksiyon siya sa mga holdapan sa mga lugar na nabanggit,” Guzman told Palawan News.
Balanza is now in the custody of the PPCPO before being committed to jail.