Bello goes easy on 4 minors who snatched his cellphone

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    By Gerard Naval and Ashzel Hachero

    FOUR minors who allegedly snatched the cellphone of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III last Friday in Manila were nabbed by police in Quiapo last Sunday and were presented to Bello yesterday.

    Instead of pushing for their prosecution, Bello offered to find job opportunities for the minors, whose ages range from 15 to 18.

    But Bello showed no mercy for Omar Sidic, who bought Bello’s phone from the minors, for violation of the anti-fencing law.

    In an online press briefing, DOLE Information and Publication Service director Rolly Francia said Bello wants Sidic charged and jailed.

    “Sec. Bello was saying no one will attempt to snatch cellphones if there are no buyers of snatched cellphones,” said Francia.

    A report released yesterday to the media showed that Bello’s phone was snatched on P. Burgos St. near the Manila City Hall and Mehan Garden at about 7:15 on Friday night.

    The minors allegedly sold the phone for P30,000 through the help of a woman who will be tapped by the police as a witness. A police official said the woman told investigators she did not know the phone was stolen.

    The phone was sold by Sidic, who is into the buy and sell business, to another man for P34, 000.

    The phone was returned to Bello yesterday.

    “His (Bello’s) idea was to have the four reformed and change their lives while they are still young by providing them jobs,” said Francia. “He hopes to be able to help them be reformed. He doesn’t intend to see them imprisoned.”

    Francia said the proposal of Bello was opposed by operatives from the Manila Police District (MPD), who brought the four to the DOLE chief.

    “Major Joey De Dios explained that the four are already supposed members of gangs.

    Therefore, reforming them will not be that easy,” Francia said.

    The four minors will be charged with snatching and robbery.

    Manila Mayor Isko Moreno reiterated his warnings to criminals not to ply their trade in the city. He also cautioned the public from buying second hand cellular phones, saying it could have been stolen.