Police on Wednesday searched sewers to ferret out a gang of thieves that tried to tunnel into pawnshops in Pasay City.
Police cordoned off a section of Libertad Street
SWAT teams guarded manholes and even fired into the sewers to force out the thieves. But as of this posting, no suspects have been arrested.
Manuel Irison, a security guard at the Ablaza Pawnshop on Libertad, said black smoke had been coming out of a manhole in front of the establishment since January 28.
Suspicions were raised after smoke once again seeped from the manhole around 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
The management of Ablaza asked officials of Barangay 59 Zone 7 to check the manhole.
Irison also said employees of the nearby Magdalena Pawnshop reported hearing banging sounds under ground.
Myra Langit, a barangay kagawad, said they opened the manhole and an employee of Ablaza identified only as Teodoro voluntarily went down to check.
Langit said Teodoro saw at least three people on a styrofoam raft signaling each other with flashlights.
Another kagawad, Carmelo Maranan, said they alerted all chairmen in nearby barangays to guard on all possible exit points.
Barangay Chairman Zengel La Torre called the Pasay police which sent a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.
The team posted near the Estero Tripa de Galina fired several shots into the sewer in an attempt to force the suspects out.
Another police team guarded the creek at Buendia.
A woman identified only as Carlota and who claimed to be a relative of one of the three suspected thieves, said at least nine people went down the sewers on Tuesday night.
Carlota said the group planned to burrow into the row of pawnshops and banks along Libertad.
She appealed to one of the suspects whom she identified as Nognog, her uncle, to surrender.
A man named Roel Yumol also arrived at the scene, claiming the men were his brothers.
Yumul said the suspects were not armed and were only there to collect copper wires.
He went down the manhole to convince the group hiding in the sewers to come out.
But as of post time, Yumul and the suspects had not surfaced.
A crew from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) arrived with jackhammers and dug up the pavement from Libertad to M. de la Cruz St. to expose the sewers.
RITCHIE A. HORARIO