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Irked De Lima orders probe into death of Ozamis crime gang leader


(from left) NBP Supt. Venancio Tesoro, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima and BuCor Chief Jesus Bucayu met to discuss the circumstances of the death of Ozamis gang leader.

MANILA, Philippines—A visibly irked Justice Secretary Leila De Lima ordered Tuesday the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of the leader of the notorious Ozamis crime syndicate.

De Lima told reporters that after the press conference in Camp Crame on Monday, Rick Cadavero alias “Kambal” and Wilfredo Panogalinga alias “Kulot” was supposed to be turned over to the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

“I want answers first from General [Benito] Estipona and from Superintendent [Danilo] Mendoza. Explain the whole thing. Good thing I was not at the press conference [in Camp Crame yesterday],” De Lima said.

At the press conference in Camp Crame Monday, Cadavero and Panogalinga were presented to the media before a ceremonial turn over by the Philippine National Police (PNP) to the BuCor. It was led by Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II.

However, after the press conference, New Bilibid Prison Superintendent Venancio Tesoro said the police refused to turn over the two to their custody until they finished the inquest proceedings for the new criminal cases that will be filed against them.

“Even with that press conference, there was no official or legal turnover yet. Is that [press conference] for show? BuCor will only be used as props,” De Lima said.

“I am directing the NBI to immediately conduct an investigation on that incident because of the very ridiculous circumstance,” De Lima added.

Cadavero escaped last December. He was sentenced to serve 67 years for a string of robbery-holdups in Metro Manila in 2011 and 2012. He was rearrested last Friday. Then, Cadavero and his companion were killed Monday evening after they came from the Dasmariñas Prosecutors Office where they were slapped with a case for evasion of service of sentence and illegal possession of firearms.

Here is what has happened Monday, as reported by Tesoro to De Lima:

         They were informed that there will be a press conference in Camp Crame for the formal turnover of Cadavero and Panogalina.

         After the press conference, the police officers escorted Cadavero and Panogalinga to the prison van where prison officers were waiting for the formal turnover.

         Estipona and Mendoza told Tesoro that they are going to use the prison van purposely to assist them in securing the fugitive up to the place where they will brought for inquest.

         Tesoro ordered his guards to bring the fugitives to the NBP for inquest.

         Estipona and Mendoza intervened and advised that the fugitive will be brought to their camp for the necessary inquest proceedings.

         From Camp Crame, the fugitives were escorted inside the prison van only up to the gate of the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa.

         From there, the two were transferred to the police van and then proceeded to Dasmariñas in Cavite.

“I told them that inquest can be conducted inside the NBP but they said they will not allow that. They have to go to Dasmariñas. They assured us that they will turn them over after the process,” Tesoro said.

The two were taken for inquest in Dasmariñas, Cavite, De Lima said. However, what she finds puzzling was the fact that why did they go to San Pedro in Laguna.

“If they came from Dasmariñas in Cavite, why San Pedro? I asked those familiar with the place and they said they can take the expressway back to NBP but they [the police] took them further away [from NBP],” De Lima said.

“I was so alarmed. I smell something fishy in the whole story,” De Lima added.

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Tags: Bureau of Corrections , Crime , Nation , News , Ozamis Gang , Rick Cadavero , robbery

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