THE Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday said the death of two leaders of the Ozamis Group appears to be another ‘rub-out’ case and that the team of policemen that escorted them is now facing possible criminal offenses.
PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima said that investigation showed that the death of Ozamis Group leaders, Ricky “Kambal” Cadavero and Wilfred “Kulot” Panolingan Jr., appears to have been deliberate.
“There was no fire-fight and that they are deliberately killed. We are still gathering more evidence relative to this. . .evidence that will stand in court and there are witnesses,” Purisima told reporters in a chance interview in Camp Crame.
The PNP chief said that he had already approved the evaluation of the pre-charges against the group of policemen that have acted as escorts of the two leaders of the Ozamis Group as specific violations have been seen.
“We will apply the full force of the law… I just approved the pre-charged evaluation of those involved in the Cadavero case, because it appears that there have been some violations and that is the death of the victims,” Purisima said.
The PNP chief also called on the Cadavero’s family to come-out and give their statements as they continue to conduct a deeper investigation and find out the motive behind in the said incident.
“We are finding out the motive, but of course, we have not seen it yet, but we are conducting deeper investigation as to the connection of those people involved… so would like them to come-out and give their statements,” Purisima said.
The high-ranking police official that could face possible charges in connection with the killing of the two-gang bosses of Ozamis Group is Supt. Danilo Mendoza, the head of the Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG).
Mendoza and 14 members of the RSOG have been relieved from post and placed under restrictive custody in Camp Crame immediately following the alleged ambush incident that killed the Ozamis Group leaders.
But, the former Southern Tagalog Police director, Chief Supt. Benito Estipona is not among the police officers included in the pre-charge evaluation that the PNP chief had just signed.
Purisima and Estipona are both members of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 81.
Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd ordered the relief of Estipona based on the principle of command responsibility last week and directed the PNP Directorate for Personnel Records Management (DPRM) to conduct its own investigation of the incident.
Roxas said that the DPRM will take-over the investigation of the PNP-IAS and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) saying that the initial reports he received from the two have more questions than answers.
Estipona took over the command of the Southern Tagalog Police from Chief Supt. James Melad who was sacked from his post following the alleged ‘shootout’ incident last January 6 in Atimonan, Quezon where 13 alleged members of a hit-squad were killed.
Cadavero and Panolingan were killed on June 15 in San Pedro, Laguna after they allegedly tried to to grab the guns of their police escorts while police convoy was being attacked by motorcycle riding gunmen.
The incident took place hours after the two, along with recaptured Chinese drug-lord Li Lian Yan alias Jackson Dy and his wife Wang Li Na, were presented before members of the press in Camp Crame. ANTHONY VARGAS