In a Letter-Complaint dated 27 November 2013, filed yesterday, Dec. 4, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), through Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Director MEDARDO G. DE LEMOS, filed charges for two (2) counts of Murderagainst sixteen (16) officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in connection with the death of two (2) members of the Ozamis Robbery Holdup Group, one of whom is its identified leader, RICKY P. CADAVERO, a.k.a. "KAMBAL".
It would be recalled that Cadavero, who was an inmate in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) after being convicted for the crimes of Robbery with Violence Against or Intimidation of Persons (2 counts), and Frustrated Murder (2 counts) by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 215, Quezon City, on 27 September 2011, escaped from his confinement from the Reception and Diagnostics Center (RDC) of the NBP on 8 December 2012. Manhunt operations were, thereafter, conducted, which culminated in his re-capture on 12 July 2013 by operatives of the Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG) 4-A, PNP, in Dasmariñas, Cavite, along with his trusted cohort, WILFREDO D. PANOGALINGA, a.k.a. "KULOT'. The two were detained at the headquarters of RSOG 4-A in Camp Vicente Lim, Calamba City, Laguna, for three days, until they were transported to the PNP Camp Crame Headquarters on 15 July 2013, for a turnover ceremony/press conference by Secretary of the Interior and Local Government MANUEL MAR A. ROXAS, during which custody over Cadavero was turned over to the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).
Right after the press conference, Cadavero was taken to the NBP on board the BuCor van. However, upon arrival at the NBP, Cadavero was not allowed by officers of the PNP to even step into the Main Building and, instead, was transferred by the PNP to the police van upon the insistence of Police Superintendent DANILO MENDOZA, Chief, Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG), Police Regional Office IV-A (PRO 4-A), who claimed that it remains their prerogative to bring Cadavero to Camp Vicente Lim for inquest proceedings, as allegedly directed by PNP Chief Superintendent BENITO ESTIPONA, despite being informed by NBP P/Supt IV VENANCIO J. TESORO that inquest proceedings could very well be conducted in the NBP Compound.
After Cadavero and Panogalinga were presented for Inquest Proceedings in Dasmariñas, Cavite, and while the group was purportedly on their way to Camp Vicente Lim, Calamba, Laguna, the PNP custodians of the prisoners allege that four (4) unidentified persons on board two (2) motorcycles tried to block their path and fired shots at their vehicles. Simultaneous with the attack, PSINSP. MANUEL M. MAGAT claims that Cadavero strangled him and tried to take his service firearm. During the struggle, he lost his balance and accidently fired successive shots at Cadavero. On the other hand, PINSP EFREN B. OCO was also attacked by PANOGALINGA, thereby also forcing him to shoot PANOGALINGA.
However, investigation conducted by the NBI's Death Investigation Division, Special Investigation Services (DID-SIS) revealed that, instead of being attacked, the PNP officers staged the supposed ambush incident and escape attempt of the victims, as a ruse to cover-up their extrajudicial or summary execution.
This conclusion was reached based on several pieces of evidence, including the testimony of PO3 GERARDO P. TUGOT, one of the police escorts, who was in the same vehicle where Cadavero and Panogalinga were killed. He not only disclaimed any commotion inside the van immediately prior to the shooting of the victims, but also stated that it was PSINSP. MAGAT who instructed him to fire at the van's windshield (with more or less 5 shots) and right front tire (with more or less 3 shots) to make it appear that an ambush occurred and to support their claim that Cadavero and PANOGALINGA attempted to escape. Physical evidence, including medico-legal findings, chemistry reports and analysis of bullet trajectories, contradicts the police escorts' claim or version of the incident. Video footages showing both victims having their hands handcuffed from behind also cast doubts on the claim that either of them tried to grab the firearms of their custodians.
The following PNP escorts of the victims were positively identified and, along with PSupt. Mendoza, were found to have conspired in committing the crimes:
1. PSUPT. DANILO G. MENDOZA;
2. PSINSP. FERNANDO T. CARDONA;
3. PSINSP. MANUEL M. MAGAT;
4. PINSP EFREN B. OCO;
5. SPO1 JASON L SEMACAS;
6. SPO1 JOSEPH P. ORTEGA;
7. SPO1 GENARO G. DE GALA;
8. PO3 MARVIN R. MEJIA;
9. PO3 RAMIL P. GONZALES;
10. PO3 SHERWIN G. BULAN;
11. PO3 GERARDO P. TUGOT;
12. PO2 EDUARDO M. CRUZ;
13. PO2 KRISTOFFERSON D. REYES;
14. PO2 EXIEL P. REYES;
15. PO2 CONRADO R. BAUTISTA, JR.; and
16. PO1 RYAN REY P. GADO.
The case for two (2) counts of Murder is now pending before the National Prosecution Service, specifically, the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Laguna (OPP-Laguna), for the conduct of preliminary investigation in order to determine the existence of probable cause to charge the respondents in court.