MANILA, Philippines — Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II on Tuesday directed an investigation into the death of a convicted gang leader, who was killed by his police escorts as he and his alleged cohort were being transported to a police camp in San Pedro, Laguna, on Monday night.
In a statement, Roxas expressed regret over the killing of Ricky Cadavero, the leader of the Ozamis robbery group, and his “trusted lieutenant,” Wilfredo Panolinga Jr.
The two were killed by their police escorts after their alleged fellow gang members supposedly ambushed the police convoy which was supposed to bring them to the Calabarzon police office in Calamba City.
“The (pair) allegedly grabbed the firearms of two of their six police escorts … after several suspects, on board two motorcycles, fired at the vehicle they were (riding in) to try to rescue the two captives,” Roxas said.
Roxas said he had tasked the Philippine National Police and the National Police Commission to look into the circumstances of the alleged rescue attempt.
“I have ordered the Napolcom and the PNP to conduct a thorough investigation into this incident and submit a report in the soonest possible time for us to hold accountable those who may be responsible for this,” he said.
Interestingly, Cadavero and Panolinga were killed just a few hours after they were presented to the interior secretary and PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima.
Roxas even held a news briefing to announce the recapture of Cadavero, who escaped from the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City last December, and two convicted Chinese drug traffickers over the weekend.
Cadavero’s group was said to be behind the daring escape of two convicted Chinese drug traffickers in Trece Martires City five months ago.
He also praised the police for its successful operations to recapture the escaped fugitives and bring them back behind bars, said it was a “downpayment” for the PNP’s improved performance.
Roxas, Purisima and members of the media also witnessed the turnover of the pair to Bureau of Corrections director Franklin Bucayu.
Purisima said he had also directed the PNP Internal Affairs Office to conducts its own investigation to determine if the police escorts broke police protocols in the transport of high-profile criminals.
“I have ordered the investigation to find out what really happened. Let’s just wait for the result of the investigation,” Purisima said.
Senior Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, PNP spokesperson, quickly brushed off insinuations that the killing could be a case of rubout.
Asked if the police considered the deaths of Cadavero and Panolinga a setback, Sindac said: “In a way, that could be a loss.”
“But we would like to assure (the public) that the PNP will be able to catch up with the other members of the Ozamis group,” he said.