MANILA, Philippines – Cashiers of department store and supermarket chain Landmark reported multiple instances of the company’s security personnel intimidating and coercing them to admit that they had stolen money.
During a Senate committee hearing, cashiers from Landmark Nuvali testified that management had informed them that their daily sales remittances were short of cash – days after the supposed shortage occurred.
“December 21 ako na-short. Nalaman ko po December 23 (My cash remittance was found to be short on December 21. I was only informed on December 23),” said Noelene Ediola, a former cashier at Landmark Nuvali.
She was merely given a slip of paper stating that her remittance was short by P11,984.55. Her supervisor then asked her to recall her transactions for that day, which she couldn’t do, given the surge of holiday shoppers.
When she asked whether she could clarify the matter with the accounting department, she was told that it would be of no use since the documents were “confidential.”
The next day, Ediola was summoned to the security office for investigation.
“Doon, pilit ako pinapaamin,” she said during the Senate hearing on Monday, January 30. “Ang sabi niya, sabihin ko raw po kung sinong kasabwat ko, kung kanino ko binigay ‘yung pera, paano ko nailabas ‘yung pera. Kasi kung hindi po, sa kulungan daw po ako mag-Papasko.”
(There, I was pressured into admitting it. They asked me to tell them who my accomplice was, to whom I gave the money to, and how I brought the money out. Or else, I’d be spending Christmas in jail.)
This was not an isolated case. Senator Raffy Tulfo had first exposed the alleged “scheme against cashiers of Landmark Store” in his privilege speech on November 22, 2022.
Sharing the story of Landmark Makati cashier Erika Joy Buendicho, Tulfo said that she was similarly accused of having a shortage in her cash turnover amounting to P4,993.71.
Being immediately investigated for alleged theft, Buendicho was then repeatedly pressured by Landmark Makati’s security department head Juanito Tanudtanud to admit to the theft.
“The security officer interrogating her was forcing her to admit that she took the amount. Personal information about her family was being used against her to establish that she is poor and therefore in dire need of money. That’s why she took the amount,” Tulfo said in his November privilege speech.
“Because of the intimidating behavior of security officer Juanito Tanudtanud, she signed a blank document and effectively waived whatever salary she had, and even paid an additional P500 to cover the supposed short she had,” he added.
Tulfo said that at least 36 Landmark cashiers had already approached him with similar stories. The cashiers told him that management can take up to a week before informing them of any shortage, and when the cashiers confront management on the basis of their alleged shortages, they are simply told that documents were confidential.
Representatives from Landmark Makati, however, have strongly denied that documents were being kept confidential.
“Documented po ‘yan your honor. Nakalagay po diyan lahat ng inendorse niyang pera. Bilang po ‘yan. Binibilang po nila ang pera nila tapos sina-submit po nila sa supervisor. Sila ang nagbibilang ng pera,” said Landmark store counter manager Josefina Miclat.
(It’s documented, your honor. All the money that she endorsed is stated there. It’s counted. They themselves count the money, and then they submit it to their supervisor. They’re the ones who count the money.)
Miclat insisted that cashiers were present when their remittances were being counted and audited against their cash register’s journal tapes. However, she admitted that the results of the audit were not reported on the same day as the cashier’s shift, which explained why cashiers were informed about their shortages late.
“Hindi po mache-check, your honor. Gabi na po. Kinabukasan na po chinecheck,” Miclat said, adding that this had been Landmark’s procedure since 1988.
(They can’t check it, your honor. It’s already nighttime. They check it the next day.)
Tulfo countered that this practice was wrong since the audit should happen on the same day and in the presence of the cashier to allow them to explain any anomalies.
“Even if it takes you until midnight, you should have that accounting right there and then in front of the cashier,” Tulfo said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Former Landmark Nuvali cashier Regina Lomerio, who had worked as a cashier in multiple other establishments, also confirmed that the practice was highly unusual.
“Sa tagal ko pong nagkahera, sa Landmark lang po akong nakaranas na hindi po within the day nalalaman ‘yung shortage. Ilang days po nila bago binibigay ‘yung shortage namin,” she said. “Tapos, ang masakit po noon, kahit po hindi kami pumipirma doon sa mga papel na iniissue nila, automatic pa din dinededuct sa sahod namin ‘yung nawawalang pera.”
(In my long career as a cashier, it’s only in Landmark that I’ve experienced not learning about a shortage within the day. It takes them days before they tell us about our shortage. And what hurts even more, even if we don’t sign the paper that they issue, our salary is still automatically deducted for the missing money.)
No hard evidence
Meanwhile, when asked whether Tanudtanud had any solid evidence proving that Buendicho had pocketed the alleged shortage, the security chief was silent.
Tanudtanud also admitted that closed-circuit television cameras were not yet installed near Buendicho’s cashier station when the incident occurred.
“In this case, puro ka suspetsa. Wala ka talagang hard evidence. Wala kang karapatan na pagbintangan at pilitin umamin ‘yung isang tao – na wala ka talagang ebidensya – hanggang sa ma-pressure itong tao. E na napaamin na lang nang hindi oras,” Tulfo said.
(In this case, all you had were suspicions. You didn’t have any hard evidence. You have no right to accuse and force a person to admit to something – when you don’t have any evidence – until they’re pressured to do so. That leads them to admit to something before they were supposed to.)
Senator Bato dela Rosa, who served as a former Philippine National Police chief, urged Tanudtanud not to coerce suspects when investigating them for any incident.
“Respetuhin niyo ang kanilang rights,” he said. “Remember palagi: you have the right to remain silent. You have the right to have an attorney or counsel of your own choice. Everything you say might be taken against you in the court of law. Dapat ganun palagi ‘yung treatment mo sa suspect. Huwag ‘yung presssurin mo na ‘aminin mo na, aminin mo na.’ Anong klaseng investigation ‘yan?”
(Respect their rights. Always remember: you have the right to remain silent. You have the right to have an attorney or counsel of your own choice. Everything you say might be taken against you in the court of law. That’s how you treat a suspect. Don’t pressure them by saying ‘admit it, admit it.’ What kind of investigation is that?) – Rappler.com
Victims should hire s lawyer and sue Landmark. Otherwise this practice will continue. Consumers should also stop patronizing Landmark for maltreating its cashiers.