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Israeli tourist ‘robbed’ by taxi driver thanks Azurin, men for swift action
A 37-YEAR-OLD Israeli tourist who was robbed by a taxi driver in Makati City last week thanked Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, General Rodolfo S. Azurin Jr. and his men for recovering his stolen properties in a very short period, forgave and even refused to press charges against the suspect.
“If God can forgive him, who am I not to forgive this guy? I want to give him a second chance,” said Hever Ben Horin during a confrontation with the suspect identified as Rudy Vihil, a resident of Brookside, Cainta, Rizal at the Makati City Police Station.
Horin, currently studying to be a helicopter pilot offered his profuse thanks to Gen. Azurin, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director, Major Gen. Jonnel C. Estomo and Southern Police District (SPD) director, Brigadier Gen. Kirby John B. Kraft for giving the orders which led to the recovery of his three bags less than 24-hours after they were stolen by the suspect.
Before he left for Sydney, Australia on Thursday, the Israeli national wrote a letter to the three officials, copies of which were furnished to the Journal Group.
“This is the extend my sincerest and heartfelt appreciation to the swift response of Southern Police District in Makati City during my stay in the Philippines, This gesture of yours was applauded by many Israeli Citizens and people around the world.
I am Hever, a tourist visiting the Philippines. Like other tourists, the main purposes of my visit in the Philippines were relaxation, rest and enjoyment. I have known Philippines as a country which has many beautiful spots and attractions. I have known Philippines as a country with a rich culture, different traditions and gastronomy,” he said.
“Last February 6, 2023, I have experienced a very traumatic incident. I have been robbed by a taxi driver and all my personal belongings were taken away. Fortunately, because of your swift response an your outstanding leadership, all my things were retrieved and given back.
I am very thankful and grateful to you especially that it is so rare nowadays to be properly accorded by officers without self-interest and reservations.
In conclusion, I pray that God will continue to bless you so that you could be able to perform the duties and responsibilities entrusted under your care. Thank you for safe guarding the country and for taking care of the people that experience inequalities and uncertainties.
May God bless you a thousand fold!” he ended.
The case of Horin reached the attention of Gen. Azurin who promptly asked Maj. Gen. Estomo to look into the matter.
Following a series of instructions, members of the SPD District Intelligence Division operatives headed by Lieutenant Colonel Grant Gollod, the Makati City Police Station under Col. Edward Cutiyog and the NCRPO Regional Intelligence Division headed by Col. Romano Cardiño conducted follow-up operations to identify the suspect and recover the stolen properties of the Israeli national late evening Tuesday.
The policemen requested a copy of the CCTV recordings of the My Hotel located along Kalayaan Avenue in Barangay Pitogo where the incident took place. They managed to identify the owner of the taxi and its driver.
The investigators discovered that the taxi cab was registered with the Mandaluyong Development Transport Service Cooperative based in Bgy. Addition Hills in Mandaluyong City.
They also found out from officials of the transport cooperative that the vehicle was originally registered under the name of one Randy Tagalog of Cainta, Rizal. However, Tagalog told the lawmen during an interview that he had sold his vehicle to one Roger Vihil of Concorde Street in Brookside, Cainta, Rizal.
The officers went to the said place and found the taxi with plate no. TMI-526 parked in front of Vihil’s house.
Vihil initially told the investigators that the taxi was only being driven by one of his friends but later confessed that during the time the Israeli national lost his three bags, it was his 47-year old brother Rudy who was driving it.
When confronted by the NCRPO operatives, Rudy broke down and turned over the stolen bags to the officers in the presence of local barangay officials.
Maj. Gen. Estomo said most of the items from the luggage of the victim including money, passport and a laptop computer were found to be intact. He added that one of the luggage was found to be containing a total of US$2,754.
After the inventory of the recovered items, the Vihil brothers were brought the Makati City police headquarters for investigation.
The following morning, the Makati City police summoned Horin to their headquarters where he met the driver who ran away with his bags.
The suspect broke down in tears when Horin did not press any criminal charges against him and instead forgave him for what he had done. “Natukso lang po ako,” he said.
Horin said he hailed the taxi being driven by Vihil shortly after he arrived in Manila on Monday last week and asked that he be brought to Makati City.
However, when they reached the My Hotel and he alighted from the taxi to make some inquiries, he was surprised to see the driver immediately leaving the place with his bags.
The Israeli managed to take pictures of the taxi’s license plates and other body markings which made it more easy for the police to identify the vehicle.