MANILA – Police are now investigating another group linked to the SM Megamall robbery on January 26, Eastern Police District director chief Supt. Miguel Laurel said on Thursday.
Laurel said they have confirmed that Ben Panday, Mark Calama and Basir Basilon, who were earlier linked to the heist, are indeed detained at the Manila City Jail.
“We did not release na Ben Panday ang may kakagawan. Kasi nga sa process of investigation, we have to validate everything. Fortunately, may nakapagsabi sa amin na siya ay nakakakulong and we were able to validate na siya nga ay nakakulong sa BJMP [Bureau of Jail Management and Penology] Manila,” Laurel told ANC’s “Top Story”.
Laurel clarified that their witness could not positively identify Panday’s group as among those who participated in the robbery.
“’Nung pagpunta ng pulis namin [sa kulungan], pinicturan sila, hinalo namin sa photo spread at pinakita sa aming witness and hindi niya talaga ma-identify. In fact, ang kinuha niyang picture ay kasama sa grupong fino-follow-up namin ngayon,” he said.
Laurel noted, however, that one of the suspects still at large allegedly has ties with Panday.
According to Laurel’s informant, the suspect was involved in a previous robbery incident in Sta. Cruz, Manila with Panday, but he was able to escape.
“Malamang itong kasama ni Ben Panday ay naki-join sa ibang grupo na ito,” Laurel said.
He added that 4 witnesses identified suspects who belong to another group.
Manila City Jail warden chief Supt. Lyndon Torres has also denied Panday’s involvement, saying it was impossible for his group to escape and return to the jail last Saturday.