Philippine Daily Inquirer / 06:19 AM April 20, 2014
Let this be a warning to commuters who ride the jeepneys along Chino Roces Avenue (formerly Pasong Tamo Street) in Makati. I almost got mugged one Friday at 8:30 p.m.
On my way home from the office, I got on a jeepney on the corner of Chino Roces and Vito Cruz Extension. I climbed in with other passengers who filled up the vehicle. I sat almost directly behind the driver and, as many people do on jeeps, I began fiddling with my mobile phone.
Someone had told me that I shouldn’t brandish my phone while on a jeep, but I had fallen into the bad habit of reading e-books on my phone while in transit.
The jeepney drove past the stoplight on Kamagong and was approaching Estrella when a big, fat hand suddenly gripped my phone. I turned and the guy next to me, a burly, dark-skinned man with unkempt hair and in a red-and-white shirt was trying to rip the phone from my hands with his left hand.
He looked at me and said, “Ibigay mo yang phone o sasaksakin kita.” He displayed his right hand, which was holding a small knife, the kind with brass knuckles on the handle. Everybody was startled, and began gripping their bags.
That was when we all realized that the other burly guy, in a light blue shirt and jeans, was blocking the exit. He was nodding his head, as if reinforcing the mugger’s threat.
The smart thing to do would have been to just hand my phone over. It’s not worth my life, I know. But at that exact moment, all I could think was: “I’ve put everything on this phone.” And: “I can’t afford to buy a new phone. I am not giving you my phone, no way.”
Without saying anything, I pulled my phone away, keeping my eyes on the mugger and his knife. “O ano, ibibigay mo ba?” he asked, waving the knife in the air. The jeepney driver, either criminally complicit or criminally ignorant, just kept driving on, seemingly oblivious to the criminal act happening in his vehicle.
On instinct, I switched my phone to my other hand, holding it close to my body and sort of crouched over it with my knapsack in the way while looking back at the mugger. We just kind of stared at each other for a few seconds.
He suddenly got up and said, “O walang gagalaw, bababa na kami!” He began backing down toward the exit and told the jeepney driver to stop. He and his companion got off and crossed the street, mixing with the street crowd.
The robbery attempt could not have taken more than three minutes.
After the jeepney sped away, the other passengers burst into loud talking. They were a) amazed that I didn’t get stabbed; b) surprised that none of our stuff was spirited away; and c) insistent that someone tell the police. The driver didn’t say anything.
When we passed Yakal, I got off the jeepney and approached a Makati traffic enforcer. I reported what had happened. He said that a) it was a common modus operandi and it was good that they didn’t get any of our stuff; b) the would-be muggers were probably new and thus unsure; and c) it was good we didn’t give in because it would give muggers something to think about. Then he told me to go home and forget about it.
I’m recounting this incident because people should know that muggers target jeepneys on Chino Roces. I found out that I was already the fourth person in the Inquirer to have undergone the ordeal, the others having been attacked earlier in the evening and even in the daytime.
Please don’t do what I did—it may be extremely dangerous the next time around. If you see people acting in a suspicious manner, trust your instincts—get off if you can. Be alert the moment you get into a jeepney. RSDV