Thursday, September 11, 2014

Theft at CCP Parking Lot, Audie Gemora Shares Horrible Experience

Wazzup Pilipinas!

“I really want to rally everyone to press CCP to improve its parking areas. My gosh, wala na ngang ilaw, wala pang gwardya. May parking fee pa! I don't even mind paying higher parking fees but naman reinvest the money into REAL security. The thieves are mostly under 18 years old! If they keep getting away with petty crimes dahil sa kapabayaan ng CCP, they will grow bolder and ang sunod nito hold up, rape or kidnapping na. Changes have to happen there.” – Audie Gemora

I am reposting this terrible incident experienced by Audie Gemora, one of our popular theater and mainstream actors. This is to open the eyes of the people that vandalism and theft is so rampant even with the youth, especially the out-of-school, because of the inexcusable lethargy in this day and age that the Philippines is in poverty. If there are the big-time criminals with their well-financed syndicate, there are also the squatters loitering the streets looking for their next victim to prey on.

I am sure that there are several instances where these low-lifes have been involved. They obviously resorted to a life of crime due to poverty but we all know that a quick buck may be able to buy them a few good meals for a few days, but it is not enough to save their souls from the fires of hell.

There are also several bad business services with their inept securities which could have been addressed by a good government that is able to strictly implement the laws and provide safety to its citizens. When will everyone wake up to insist on having a decently progressive country with responsible leaders and citizens?

Someone please call the attention of Mayor Joseph Estrada. If that dark area belongs to jurisdiction of Manila, then they should put up solar lights in the area. Policemen should round up those kids and give them to DSWD which should provide a more efficient process to dissuade these kids from a life of crime.

There should also be something done to teh process of reporting a crime and persecuting the criminals. Many of us would no longer try to pursue a complaint due to the amount of stress and financial burden it will give us because of the many intricacies that makes it difficult for an ordinary citizen to get justice from a system that only favors the affluent and well-connected.

Please read on and hopefully do something for the benefit of those that may become future victims.

Last night after office around 8:30pm I met up with Carlo Orosa at Harbor Square CCP Complex. There was a queue and the parking there was full so I parked in the area fronting CCP’s Little Theater and Artist entrances. It was characteristically dim since only a few of the lamp posts there work. I intentionally parked near a lit post near the ticket booth para safer.

10pm I returned to my car to find the left passenger seat window had been smashed in. My bag containing a Mac Pro, phone charger, a check book, important documents, my new Solaire ID, etc had been stolen.

There was no guard around. I informed the lady in the booth and she called out to the area but no one came. I walked the parking stretch but found no one. I went to the Pulis post in front of the Design Building but the cop there told me they are Pasay police while the parking lot my car was at is under the jurisdiction of Manila. I went to the CCP Security office at the Artist entrance and the guard there told me they don’t service the parking area either because it is managed by SMART PARKING which is renting the parking space from CCP and it has it’s own security agency El Gringo Security Services.

Nevertheless he accompanied me to the parking area and as we approached, two female teenagers selling sampaguita ran off. He told me he saw them around my car earlier and suspects they were the look outs. He also told me there was a similar incident in a parking area in front of Star City last week.

I sent an SOS to Carlo who came back. The 3 of us waited about 30 minutes before the official security guard Michael Dublin of El Gringo Security Services hired by SMART PARKING arrived on his motorbike. Instead of conducting an investigation he acted more like an “usesoro.” It was Carlo who took the initiative to take pics of the car. We did the interrogating. Why was he not in his post? He said he was making the rounds of the 3 parking areas he is assigned to. We told him to call his supervisor who came after another 30 minutes and whose only contribution throughout the whole ordeal was to remind me, while pointing to my parking ticket, that SMART PARKING is not liable for damages or losses of any vehicle parked there. Prompting the police to say “Tumatanggap kayo ng pera para bantayan ang lugar tapos wala kayong kasalanan pag may nawala?” Then he turned to me and suggested they may even be in cahoots, turning a blind eye cause really, in that case, “Walang habol.”

Meantime we told the guard to report the incident to the Manila Police stationed at Harrison Plaza. Hesitant to take the trouble, he suggested for us to take the car to the station instead. Carlo had to remind him you never touch anything in a crime scene before the police arrives. Finally he relented and took off on his motorbike.

Minutes later police car entered the parking area. But it went straight to the back of the lot where there is an eatery... Yaki “something”. A bit later the El Gringo guard returned with a police. The police conducted a proper investigation. He told us the culprit is most probably one of the many teen vagrants in the area. We interviewed a small sampaguita boy who told us he’d seen how it’s done...they rub something on the window of a vehicle then turn a lighter on it and the glass shatters. He even named the Sampaguita girls who were seen running away. The police asked me to take him back to the Manila Police station but before we exited the parking area, he made me stop by the old unused public comfort rooms on the opposite end where a bunch of teenagers were asleep. He started to interrogate them. Said they all come from a neighborhood in Pasay. He was joined by the squad of police who finished eating at the restaurant and they volunteered to pick up the suspects.

At the police station they brought those they rounded up and interrogated these youngsters. Most had already been caught and jailed for petty crimes. And the police actually knew them by name! One kid “Tisoy” was involved a year earlier in the similar crime. A car of musicians who came from Lea Salonga’s concert was broken into and two violins were stolen. Apparently my case is the 3rd to happen within the CCP parking areas as of late.

The Manila policemen were very helpful. They spent time interrogating the El Gringo guard, Michael Dublin and found out he had a fake license which he eventually admitted having paid 3k for to process. This means he never underwent training and the bigger implication is that El Gringo Security Agency falsifies its documents and misrepresents itself!

After writing a police blotter the chief there advised me to file a case against SMART PARKING and El Gringo Security Agency. But as I weigh that option
(stress and legal fees will cost me even more) I have decided to share this story on FB as a warning to all my artist colleagues and arts patrons who might park around the CCP grounds. You are safer in Habor Square.

I call CCP’s attention to this safety concern.

Artists earn so little as is, while we all know how difficult it is to attract audiences to patronize the arts much less drive though traffic to go to the CCP complex. I hope CCP will not tolerate a deterrent such as deplorable, unsafe parking conditions.

I understand CCP lacks government funding and there is not enough to go around for arts and culture projects as it were but must you scrimp on lamp post bulbs and electricity? Do we need to wait for injury caused by a hold up before allotting a budget for illumination? I think naman your artists and patrons deserve better because they give so much of themselves to the National Theater.

Why are vagrants allowed to loiter, no sleep, in the parking area given the history of crimes done by these delinquents?

Please investigate SMART PARKING. They are absolutely inept. Do you know as I exited the parking area to go to the police station, a guy at the ticket booth wanted to charge me a parking fee pa?! The nerve.

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