Cases of snatching in Metro Manila have been increasing, and in Taft Avenue alone, theft and robbery statistics is aggravatingly high. Even the Malate policemen have been scratching their heads in search of a solution to this perennial problem.
Last March 24, 2014, a group of Green Tracksters and Lady Tracksters were feasting in the McDonalds Dessert Bar right beside the DLSU campus. Pole vaulter, Adel Valdecañas, was using his smartphone when suddenly two men came over from his rear, snagged his phone, and ran across the street.
Malate Police officer, PO1 Nina Batalla, witnessed the incident and quickly chased the two men. The group of DLSU Tracksters quickly joined and used their overwhelming speed to help the policewoman who was already being outrun by the suspects. The Tracksters were able to catch the two snatchers, and they were able to turn the suspects over to the police station where the smart phone was recovered and charges were filed.
“We just used our advantage as quick runners and fortunately we were able to chase them,” Lady Trackster Precious Que narrates. “We were lucky that the thieves weren’t as skilled in running.”
The Malate police force lacked manpower in regards to chasing snatchers and thieves in Taft, however, the support from the quick athletes of the Track and Field Team of DLSU gave way for the Chief of the Malate district police to request for help in future snatching occurrences.
“Malaking tulong itong mga Track-and Field [athletes] ng La Salle. Mabibilis [tumakbo] ang mga batang ito compared sa mga pulis namin. Maganda if they can continue helping us in chasing suspects,” explains Chief Supt. Cirilo Poblete.
Unfit Malate police
The Malate police force has been unable to apprehend any of the snatchers in the area for the past two years, citing that they could not match the running speed of the criminals.
“Our policemen are being outrun by suspects. Nahihirapan kaming habulin sila,” remarks Chief Supt. Poblete.
A formal letter requesting for a partnership between the Malate police and the DLSU Tracksters was sent to the Head Coach of the DLSU Tracksters following the day of the incident.
The Green and Lady Tracksters who are in their offseason have accepted the request from the police after the recent snatching incident involved one of their athletes. After seeing what the team can do for the city, the Head Coach did not hesitate and obliged to the request.
Most cases of snatching and theft are reported early in the morning when students are rushing to school. The offer from the police was very timely as the Green Tracksters and Lady Tracksters were looking for alternative ways to innovate their training sessions for the upcoming season. Interestingly, their routine training from six to eight in the morning coincides where most snatching cases occur.
To ensure the safety of the Tracksters, the police would issue them standard wooden batons, which they can carry around when they run.
“They are just like the batons we use in our relays”, Lady Trackster, AJ Francisco referred about the wooden sticks. “We are used to running with them and we are excited about our new training regime.”
This unorthodox training method will give the Green and Lady Tracksters a simulation of the suspense and the pressure brought about by actual competition.
“We believe that this kind of experience is essential, as this cannot be simulated in our regular trainings in the Rizal Memorial Stadium,” Lady Trackster Precious Que concludes.