MANILA, Philippines – Contradicting the cops in whose custody the leader of a drug-linked group died, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima revealed on Tuesday, July 23, that no shootout happened.
Purisima said that from the initial stages of the investigation, “it appears” that a “rubout” occurred, killing Ozamiz gang leader Ricky Cadavero and his trusted man Wilfredo Panagolinga Jr on July 15.
He quickly added, however, that investigators will continue gathering evidence.
“There was no firefight in the incident,” Purisima said.
Cadavero and Panagolinga were killed in what policemen said was a firefight while the two were being transported by policemen to the Calabarzon police headquarters in San Pedro, Laguna, after attending inquest proceedings.
Their police escorts claimed that the two attempted to grab their firearms during the ambush, prompting the cops to shoot and kill them.
The PNP leadership has since relieved 15 policemen, including Chief Supt Benito Estipona, regional director of Calabarzon, and Supt Danilo Mendoza, head of the PNP regional special operations group (RSOG) in the same region.
Estipona and Mendoza reportedly ordered the police escorts to bring the suspects to a police headquarters in Cavite. They defied Purisima’s orders to bring them straight to the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City, arousing suspicion from some quarters that the relieved officers had wanted to silence the suspects.
Purisima said he has approved pre-charge evaluation against 15 policemen, including Supt Danilo Mendoza, the head of the Regional Special Operations Group, involved in the deaths of the two robbery gang leaders.
Involved policemen are presently under restrictive custody in Camp Crame. – Rappler.com