On the very first day Boracay reopened to tourists, an Italian visitor and his Filipina girlfriend were allegedly targeted by a gang of thieves.
The incident occurred at about 7.30pm on Friday, October 26, outside a restaurant at the island’s Station Two.
Fabio Sidri, aged 44, told police that he and his girlfriend were walking from Hobbit Tavern Restaurant inside D’Mall towards the beachfront when they passed Aria Restaurant.
It was at this moment his girlfriend noticed that the black bag he was carrying had been opened.
When the Italian checked inside he found his wallet was missing. It had contained two credit cards, his driving licence, $60 and about 15,000 pesos in cash.
Chief Inspector Bryan Gregorio, Western Visayas deputy spokesman, said he thought it was a “salisi” — or distraction — theft committed by a group of four men and a woman.
“It’s embarrassing because our island has just reopened, but there is already an incident of theft. We will ensure that this will not be repeated and we hope our tourists will be alert, too,” he said.
“Investigators have to check why his companion did not reacted when they apparently saw of the presence of the five suspicious persons.”
Even before the theft, police had announced an increase in manpower to the island, with about 400 extra officers drafted in to patrol the resort. On top of this are about 200 augmentation forces from the Army, Coast Guard and other volunteer groups.
Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao, regional police director, said: “With the influx of tourists in the area, we will be expecting more human activities and therefore, the crime incidents will also go up.”
According to police figures from before the closure, the most common crimes on the island stemmed from drunken behaviour, such as belligerence and fighting. Petty theft was also frequently reported.
However, Ch. Supt. Bulalacao said that with the island’s increased profile since its closure, police also had to consider the threat of terrorism.
He said: “Since this becomes now an attractive area for the Islamic State, we do not want to be alarmists, but we are preparing for possible incident involving terrorism.”
A day before the island’s reopening, hundreds of policemen and other security officers roll-played a series of scenarios including a bomb threat and kidnapping raid.
The island was closed to tourists for “environmental rehabilitation” in April after it was described as a “cesspool” by President Duterte.
Its opening yesterday came with a strict cap on visitor numbers, a pre-entry registration system, a limited number of accredited hotels, continuing roadworks and a slate of new rules and regulations.
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