MANILA, Philippines—Two leaders of the notorious Ozamis crime syndicate who were being brought back to prison in Calamba City after their inquest were killed in what police claimed was an attempt by their fellow gang members to rescue them from their police escorts in San Pedro, Laguna, on Monday night.
Ricky “Kambal” Cadavero, 36, who is the identified leader of the robbery gang, and his trusted henchman, Wilfredo “Kulot” Panogalinga Jr., were killed just hours after they were presented to Interior Secretary Mar Roxas in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
Roxas had earlier ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology to look into the “miraculous” escape of some high-profile criminals from state prisons, including Cadavero.
Cadavero was recaptured by the PNP in Dasmarinas City, Cavite, last Friday, seven months after he bolted the tightly guarded New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
The attempted “rescue” in San Pedro, Laguna, occurred around 6:30 p.m. while they were on their way back to the police camp in Calamba City from an inquest proceeding at the Cavite Prosecutor’s Office in Dasmariñas City for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Chief Superintendent Benito Estipona, Calabarzon regional director, said the convoy carrying Cadavero and Panogalinga was traveling at the vicinity of Barangay (village) San Antonio, San Pedro, Laguna, when armed men aboard a motorcycle fired at the van they were riding in while traversing Magsaysay Highway.
He said armed men on two other motorcycles were also tailing the van carrying Cadavero and Panolinga, and another vehicle of the police.
Estipona said Cadavero and Panogalinga then tried to grab the firearms of two of their six police escorts.
“Protecting themselves, the other police escorts inside the same vehicle, shot the two accused,” Estipona said.
The wounded convicts were then moved to the other police vehicle and rushed to the Beato Cauilan Hospital in nearby Muntinlupa City, where they were declared dead on arrival.
“There was an attempt to rescue them. That’s the initial assessment of our investigators,” Supt. Erwin Oban, Calabarzon police spokesman, told the Inquirer over the phone.
The case of illegal possession of firearms and explosives had been filed against them after they were found in possession of hand guns and a grenade when they were recaptured in Cavite last Friday.
Several robbery incidents
Cadavero is involved in several robbery incidents of money changers and banks in Metro Manila, including the incident at Alabang Town Center in Muntinlupa in 2011.
Panogalinga, on the other hand, is said to be a key suspect in the shooting of American Robert Armstrong during a robbery at a 7 Eleven convenience store in Malate, Manila, last September 2012.
The Ozamis group is also believed to have been involved helping three Chinese drug convicts flee in Cavite last February.
However, two of the Chinese convicts—spouses Li Lan Yan a.k.a Jackson Dy/Henry Reyes and Wang Li Na—have also been recaptured in San Juan City last Saturday.
Authorities have yet to locate Li Tian Hua.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas earlier led the turnover of the spouses to the Bureau of Corrections. Before they were taken away by the Ozamis group, the three “high-profile” drug traffickers were detained at the Cavite Provincial Jail.—With a report from Marlon Ramos, Philippine Daily Inquirer
Originally posted at 11:17 p.m.