Editorial

Rub it in

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The circumstances behind the deaths of two criminal gang leaders in the hands of their police escorts, last Monday in Laguna, are an offensive cliché: the supposed attempt to escape, the alleged reaching after the police escorts’ guns, the reported swift and deadly reaction of the policemen. To use the language of the street: “Bumenta na ’yan!”

Really, it is a story that has been sold past its best-before date. Some law enforcers notorious for practicing the same kind of extrajudicial justice have gone on to serve in higher office, their exploits only the more popular of the many such stories about prisoners-killed-while-trying-to-escape-police-custody that attach to some law enforcers like an extra badge.

When the news spread that Ozamiz gang leader Ricky Cadavero and his companion Wilfredo Panogalinga Jr. had been killed while being transferred under police escort, mere hours after the two ex-fugitives had been presented to the press in Camp Crame in Quezon City, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was right to feel “so alarmed.” She said: “I smell something fishy in the whole story because in the first place, why hold a press conference to show that they were turned over from the police to [the Bureau of Corrections]?”—when, that is, there was no such turnover.

That must be the first question the investigators from both the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation must ask: Why did the agencies involved—at this point it is not yet clear who did the organizing, whether it was the PNP or BuCor—call a news conference at the PNP headquarters? Acting BuCor chief Franklin Bucayu and Supt. Venancio Tesoro said they attended the news conference to receive custody of Cadavero and Panogalinga.

But: “General Estipona and Mendoza intervened and advised [us] that the fugitives be brought to their camp [in Dasmariñas City] for the necessary [inquest] proceedings.” In other words, Chief Supt. Benito Estipona, police chief of the Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon region, and Supt. Danilo Mendoza, head of the Regional Special Operations Group, did not transfer custody of the two prisoners as the news conference had advertised.

“What is unusual there is that the fugitive should have been physically turned over to us at Muntinlupa. That’s the practice, and that was why we never expected that they would call us for that purpose (to accompany the police escorts) because they’ve been doing that since time immemorial,” Tesoro added.

Not only did Estipona and Mendoza fail to transfer the prisoners to BuCor, they also ordered the ex-fugitives and their police escorts to take a lengthier route.

An angry De Lima questioned the decision for the police convoy to take the longer and therefore riskier route: “… [I]f you’ve come from Dasmariñas, why go to San Pedro? The police can always go via the expressway but they went farther.”

It was in San Pedro, at around half past six in the evening, that motorcycle-riding gunmen allegedly ambushed the police convoy, leading to that overfamiliar scene: prisoners allegedly wrestling with police guards to get their firearms.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas immediately “ordered the [National Police Commission] and the PNP to conduct a thorough investigation into this incident and submit a report in the soonest possible time.” The PNP chief, Director General Alan Purisima, expressed deep regret: “As the chief and father of the Philippine National Police, I am saddened by the incident, knowing how hard we worked to locate and recapture those fugitives.”

Sensible first reactions, but both Roxas and Purisima must do more and put official pressure on Estipona and Mendoza to explain themselves. Why did they fail to follow the usual protocol? Why did they tell the BuCor officials only at the last minute? Why did they allow the convoy to take the longer route? And, yes, what happened to those alleged motorcycle-riding gunmen?

Unless Estipona and Mendoza can clear the air, the public will be justified in thinking, not only that Cadavero and Panogalinga were killed in a rubout, but also that they were killed because they implicated certain police officers. There’s no two ways about it.

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • marionics

    weird. bakit wala daw akong permission to post dun sa thread ng namatay na glee addik? pero dito ok naman

    go figure

  • ROM OSOR

    Do you know that kahit sa mga detention cell ng pulis stations ay napakarami na kaagad anomalya. May alak, drugs, nakakalabas kapag gabi ang mapepera. Kung magbayad ang pusher pagkahuli mababa na ang charge pagdating sa presinto – kung magbayad pa muli dudukutin lang sila at ilalabas – makalipas ang ilang panahon pwede na ulit silang arestuhin at pagkaperahan muli… Kung alam na mapera ang detainee pinagkakaperahan sila ng mga pulis kahit sa simpling pagpapabili ng pagkain. Ask any person who were detained before!

    • tarikan

      Minsan nga yung asawa ng detainee ay inasawa ng hepe ng detention center eh. Si detainee pinalaya kunyari tapos hindi pa nakakalayo nasagasaan ng military truck. Si biyuda sulong-solo na ng hepe, muy mautak comprendes?

  • rapas_gamrud

    The system is there just like a big tree firmly rooted and can not be blown away or uprooted by just a 150 kph storm wind.

  • tugakbatan

    Lumang tugtugin na ito. Kaparis ito ng kay Pinky Lacson, re: Kuratong Baleleng.

  • tarikan

    Ang ibang mahilig sa rub-out ay nagiging senador pa. Nasaan na kaya yung milyones ng Kuratong Baleleng,, nagastos na siguro sa election campaign.

  • jackereno

    paulit ulit nangyayari kasi wala naman napaparusahan, mas malaki ang involve na pera lalo walang kaparusahan ang may sala. basta may pera laging lusot sa batas, umpisa pa lang ng imbestigasyon hanggang sa judge puro lagayan kaya lalong lumalala ang crimes na mga involve ang autoridad.

  • Lorence Caronggo

    Pagdudahan din si Mar Roxas sa nangyaring pagpatay sa dalawang Ozamis robbery gang. Chief siya ng DILG eh

  • mongolloyd cruz

    Something fishy daw sa pagpatay kina Cadavero at Panogalinga. Amuyin niyo
    din si dilg Mar Roxas baka may kinalaman din siya e hawak niya PNP

  • josh_alexei

    So what’s new pussycat? I have been watching a lot of old western movies and in many plots these rub-outs were written and very badly executed and in the end the bad guys ended up either finding themselves at the end of the rope and or losing the draw with the Star of the movie. But those were in the movies. these are different. The bad guys ended up getting elected to the Senate, HOR, Governors, and plot more rub-outs and make fortunes from their crimes…A push up there and slap in the wrist here, and all is back to normal.

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