A massive Philippine police search was underway yesterday for two motorcycle-riding men who shot and killed a New Zealand man in a brazen street robbery that officials fear could scare foreign tourists away.
The 34-year-old tourist, Nicholas Peter Stacey, was fatally shot once in the chest while trying to wrest a pistol from one of the two robbers who held up him and his Filipina girlfriend on Sunday in a suburban street in Manila’s Makati financial district, police Major General Jonnel Estomo said.
“We regret to report this incident and extend our sympathy to the bereaved family,” Estomo said in a statement, adding that he has ordered the police to “leave no stones unturned until the culprits are brought to jail and are prosecuted.”
While he described the deadly street robbery as an “isolated incident,” Estomo said it has the potential to frighten foreign tourists.
Police patrols would be beefed up to prevent a recurrence, said Estomo, who heads the Manila Police District.
“We know that this incident could spark fear among tourists, who plan to visit our country, so we will make sure the slain victim will get justice and demonstrate that the police are always ready to provide service,” Estomo said in a statement.
Stacey’s girlfriend, Pamela Gaye Villanoza, told investigators that the couple had just arrived in the capital region from a holiday trip in the western island province of Palawan and were walking to a laundry shop in the early hours after midnight when the suspects approached on a motorcycle.
One of them alighted and pointed a pistol at the couple while his companion parked the motorcycle a few meters away. Stacey grappled with the armed man and was shot and killed, she said.
Before fleeing, the shooter, who was wearing a black shirt and red athletic shorts, took Villanoza’s cellphone and wallet, police said.
Investigators would try to match a slug found in the area and compare it with slugs recovered from other recent crime scenes in the heavily populated metropolis to try to identify the suspects and assess how they operate, police said.
Crimes, decades-long Muslim and communist rebellions, and other security concerns have long hampered tourism in the Philippines, a Southeast Asian archipelago that offers white sand tropical beaches, diving and surfing resorts, heritage towns, rainforests and warm hospitality.
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