Unforgettable story of Manila-style mugging during the mid-1960s PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 20 September 2011 15:11

By TONY JOAQUIN

It was the height of the Macapagal election campaign in 1965.  The usual hoopla was reverberating at Plaza Miranda and the people were reenergized as would any election would energize Filipinos.

I was then a junior official, tasked with gathering news footage for the early news program the next morning. It was almost 10 pm and I was tired from the coverage. Having taken our audio and video equipment from the car I turned to unlock our apartment door when I saw a figure approaching me, a young man who said in English, “Sir, we are looking for a …” but before he finished his sentence he was already just a meter away from me as I stood there unsure of what was happening.

Switching his tone, the young man then said in a softer modulated voice “Sir, this is a holdup…raise your hands and do not move.”

In seconds the young man had taken my wallet from my back pocket lifted both audio and video equipment and quickly turned to go back to a car idling in the entrance.  In the darkness I managed to catch a glint of an automatic that was pointed at me held by another man who then turned and entered the car which sped away instantly. I said a silent prayer that I was not hurt at all.

As soon as I got a hold of reality I jumped back into my car and sped out was able to spot one. I told them what happened.

In seconds they told me to park my car on the side and join them in their police cruiser explaining that most holduppers in cars usually throw police off by ducking inside loungers and letting the moment pass before they proceeded back to their hideaways.  I accompanied the duo inside the lounges with dark colored weird looking lights that gave patrons ghastly looking faces. No one even came close to that person I was looking for.’

Once we were finished with several lounges I was about to suggest to call it a night and to pursue it tomorrow. One interrupted me saying that I have to file the report that evening so that the department can begin their pursuit of the culprits

The holdup took place around 10 p.m. I agreed with the officers and I followed them back to their headquarters.

That night and months later in the case, I got a closer look at the abominable situation that prevailed in a police headquarters in the early sixties, which, to put it mildly, was extremely revolting to me. Using a battered typewriter I narrated my story to a police clerk who could not type and had overused carbon and poor quality bond paper.

And when I asked to go to their restroom the clerk just said “it is out of order” just go outside among the grass and do it there.” Again shock!

The coming events became more appalling and my image of police action deteriorated more. In fact, as I gave my statement everyone in the headquarters all shared my Salem cigarettes lying there without anyone even asking me permission if they could get one stick. I had to pursue the case since it concerned borrowed equipment from the U.S. Embassy news division.

After about four months of follow-up by the four man squad wearing their civilian clothes and me supplying most of their gasoline, food and cigarettes we were able to apprehend all four holdup men, retrieve the equipment from pawnshops in Manila and after more months of trial only one served time.

This one convict even did business inside selling favors to fix parole for a price.