THE chief of the Southern Tagalog Regional Police Office was ordered relieved from his post on Wednesday as investigation on the alleged “rescue attempt” of slain gang leaders of Ozamis Group goes into full swing.
Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd in a hastily called press conference in Camp Crame on Wednesday announced that he has ordered the relief of the Chief Supt. Benito Estipona as regional commander of the Southern Tagalog Police office.
The relief of Estipona came a few hours after Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director Gen. Alan Purisima ordered the relief of a team from Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG) that escorted slain gang leaders, Ricky “Kambal” Cadavero and Wilfred “Kulot” Panoligan Jr.
The interior secretary said that the relief of Estipona was based on ‘command principle’ since as regional commander he has supervision and operational control of the RSOG.
Too, possible criminal charges await the members of the team that escorted the two leaders of the Ozamis Group that were killed in an alleged “rescue” attempt in Laguna on Monday.
The police team led by Supt. Danilo Mendoza, head of the RSOG of the Southern Tagalog Police and four officers and 10 policemen were ordered relieved from their post amid a growing outcry that it was another “rubout” case.
Director General Purisima said the 15 policemen were relieved from their post and placed on floating status while a fact-finding investigation is being conducted to determine the circumstances behind the incident.
“Actually they are [on]floating [status], they are assigned in administrative holding unit and they are currently being investigated over what really transpired in that incident,” Purisima told reporters in Camp Crame.
The PNP chief said that the PNP Internal Affairs Service (IAS) is tasked to conduct the fact-finding investigation and if warranted will determine the possible criminal charges to be filed against the police escorts.
“This is really the job of IAS . . . to investigate if there is a need to file criminal charges and IAS will determine that,” Purisima said.
“We will look into the evidences that will be presented, we will not conclude anything at this time, we can only speculate, but our conclusion will not be accurate,” he added.
Supt. Mendoza and 14 of his personnel have acted as security escorts for Ricky “Kambal” Cadavero and Wilfredo Panolinga Jr., the recaptured leaders of the dreaded Ozamis Group involved in high-profile robbery incidents in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
Mendoza and his men were escorting Cadavero and Panolinga back to Calamba City after the pair went through inquest proceedings in Dasmariñas, Cavite when the police convoy was allegedly strafed by motorcycle riding gunmen.
Cadavero and Panoligan were shot after they reportedly tried to wrestle the guns from their police escorts.
Before the said incident, the two were presented in a press conference in Camp Crame by Interior Secretary Roxas 2nd and Purisima before being turned over to the custody of the Bureau of Corrections.