(Updated 8:50 p.m.) Defying a 120-day election gun ban, armed robbers staged a holdup at a jewelry establishment and caused tension among shoppers when they reportedly fired shots in a major mall in Metro Manila Saturday night.
No one was initially reported injured in the robbery at the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City, even as radio reports quoted some witnesses as saying the robbery was done in one minute.

“Hinahanap pa namin kasi sumama sa karamihan (We are looking for the suspects, who may have blended with the crowd going out of the mall),” Mandaluyong City police chief Senior Superintendent Florendo Quibuyen said in an interview on dzBB radio.

Quibuyen declined to give further details, but said they have started pursuit operations against the suspects.

When asked if there was anyone injured, he said, “negative.”

National Epidemiology Center head Dr. Enrique Tayag said the Department of Health sent medical teams to the area.

As of 8:39 p.m., Mandaluyong City Mayor Ben Hur Abalos said everything was under control.

Walang nasaktan sa SM Megamall incident (No one was hurt in the Megamall incident). Everything is now under control,” the city public information office quoted the mayor as saying, in a post on its Twitter account.

Saturday night’s incident came in the middle of an election gun ban that started Jan. 13 and ends June 12.

During the gun ban, only law enforcers in uniform and on duty can bring firearms outside their houses as permits to carry firearms outside residences are generally suspended.

‘Martilyo Gang’

Citing initial information reaching him, Quibuyen said the incident occurred shortly before 8 p.m. at the upper ground floor of the SM Megamall Building B.

He said they are verifying information the armed men may have been members of the Martilyo Gang, but declined to say what shop they could have targeted.

The Martilyo Gang is known for targeting jewelry shops and using a hammer to shatter the show cases.

“Ongoing ang investigation namin at pursuit operation namin,” Quibuyen said.

A separate report by dzBB’s Glen Juego said at least “two to three” suspects are the subjects of the pursuit operations.

SM Management said in a Twitter post that the incident was a “robbery at (a) jewelry counter SM Megamall.”

“No casualties,” said SM Supermalls on its Twitter account.

A separate report on dzRH radio quoted witnesses who said the robbers staged their heist in one minute.

It also said at least one woman fainted due to tension. — LBG, GMA News