OZAMIS CITY MAYOR Reynaldo Parojinog and Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog Echavez with Sen. Leila de Lima in better times. At right, mug shots of Vice Mayor Echavez and brother Reynaldo Parojinog Jr.
By ALFRED G. GABOT and FRANCO G. REGALA
OZAMIS CITY (PhilAmPress) — Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog, his wife, a brother, a sister and 12 others were killed in a joint raid conducted by operatives of the Misamis Occidental Provincial Police Office and the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Region 10 in the Parojinog compound in San Roque Lawis in this city at dawn on Sunday, July 30.
Arrested during the raid were the mayor’s daughter Nova Princess Parojinog Echavez, who is the incumbent vice mayor of Ozamis, and her brother Reynaldo Parojinog Jr. The two were later airlifted and detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City and subjected to inquest proceedings on charges of of violation of Section 11 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act (possession of dangerous drugs) and Section 21 of the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act (acquisition or purchase and sale of firearms and ammunition)
Police identified the slain mayor’s wife as Susan, sister as Mona and brother as Octavio Parojinog Jr., who was a member of the Misamis Occidental Sanguniang Panlalawigan. Also killed were a certain Lydia and JR of Lumad TV, civilian volunteer members Miguel del Victoria, Nestor Cabalan, and Daniel D. Vasquez.
Police said about P1.4 million in cash, half a kilo of suspected “shabu” and firearms were recovered from the vice mayor’s home.
Members of the Parojinog family, supporters and their lawyers immediately assailed the raid as “overkill.”
Former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III himself was drawn into the case as urged authorities to investigate the raid on the Parojinog family compound, saying he cast doubt on the police operation.
“‘Yung mga kinauukulan dapat matignan nila ito. Any time may loss of life, maski successful ang unang operation sasabihin ‘ano ba magagawa natin dito para maganda yung susunod na operasyon?’” Aquino said during a recorded ambush interview..
The bloody raid also raised doubts from various lawmakers, including Sens. Francis Escudero and Francis Pangilinan who questioned the timing of the operation.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs and a former PNP chief, said he does not see any need to probe the bloody raids.
At this point I don’t see any reason why the Senate should investigate because that was a police operation,” Lacson told reporters.
Vice Mayor Nova Parojinog Echavez accused police of planting firearms and illegal drugs inside her house, an allegation denied by the police led by Misamis Occidental police chief Senior Supt. Jaysen de Guzman.
“I’m all for the war on drugs… but there is such a thing as justified killing, and there is such a thing as overkill,” Parojinog lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said.
Ozamiz City legal officer Jeffrey James Ocang also said the mayor could not have engaged the police in a gunfight, and noted that the mayor, his wife, and provincial board member Octavio Parojinog all had gunshot wounds to the head.
On Tuesday, Aug. 1, supporters of the Parojinog family started to flock a covered court in Barangay San Roque Lawis Ozamiz City to visit the wake of Mayor Parojino Sr. and three other members of the family.
Parojinog’s family opened the wake to the public Monday afternoon, and will remain open to supporters and friends before the interment next week.
Meanwhile, Ozamiz Bishop Martin Jumoad appealed for prayers for the slain mayor and the others, saying he hoped his death would bring peace and prosperity to the city.
“We are sad with the untimely death of mayor Aldong Parojinog. I do not judge him. May his soul and the souls of those who died with him rest in peace,” he added.
“May his death pave the way for Ozamiz City (to) become a peaceful city, progressive where people enjoy the air of freedom and prosperity,” he added
Parojinog was the third mayor on President Rodrigo Duterte’s “narco-list” to be killed in reported shootout with police operatives. First to be killed on October 28, 2016 was Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao together with eight others, including five of his armed bodyguards, in a firefight in Makilala, North Cotabato.
On November 5, 2016, Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. and fellow drug inmate Raul Yap were gunned down by agents of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group following a reported shootout inside the Baybay provincial jail in Baybay City, Leyte.
Following the death of Mayor Parojinog, PNP Chief Director General Ronaldo dela Rosa warned that that “more are coming” as the PNP will intensify its campaign against illegal drugs and those involved in the illicit trade.
“Marami pa. Marami pa kaya hintay-hintay lang kayo,” Dela Rosa said as he called on wanted drug personalities, including those involved in “narco-politics” to yield peacefully while being arrested or they will be killed if they resist and fight.
Gen. de la Rosa said that as promised by President Duterte during his second State-of-the-Nation-Address, there will be no let-up in the government’s crackdown against drugs and it will be on a “nationwide scale.’”
“To be fair with these people, this should serve as a warning to everyone na ang PNP ay walang sinasanto pag dating sa enforcement ng batas. As far as law enforcement is concerned, we have no fear or favor,” the PNP chief stressed.
It was learned that more than 30 alleged narco-politicians tagged by President Duterte are still in power. They include 22 mayors, seven vice mayors, one congressman and one councilor.
In August last year, Duterte named government officials, including judges, mayors congressmen and police officers, allegedly involved in illegal drugs.
Following Duterte’s revelation, PNP National Capital Region chief Director Oscar Albayalde said that mayors in Metro Manila are protectors of drug personalities, and that many councilors and officials are involved in illegal drugs.
The PNP chief said that organized crime gangs affiliated with the Parojinogs will lay low now that their powerful supporters are dead. He said many crimes in Metro Manila have been found to be committed by well-organized crime gangs allegedly connected with the Parojinogs and the Kuratong Baleleng gang which they organized.
The Parojinogs founded the Kuratong Baleleng, which started out as an anti-communist vigilante group supported by the military but later turned to criminal activities including bank and armored van robberies, kidnapping, extortion and illegal gambling.
“Everything goes back to Ozamiz. Lahat ng malalaking kaso dito sa Metro Manila— bank robbery, Martilyo Gang, yung mga kidnapping-for-ransom, rescue ng Chinese drug lords, lahat ng investigation going back to Ozamiz City, ‘yung mga involved d’yan is Ozamiz group at saka yung Kuratong Baleleng,” dela Rosa said.
“Let us see, tingnan natin kung magtapang-tapangan pa ba yung Ozamiz group itong panahon na ito,” he said. However, he said that he has ordered his men to remain vigilant even with the death of Parojinog. “It remains to be seen, tingnan natin baka mamaya may umusbong diyan na ibang operator,” he said as he noted that there has been an emerging drug lord in Western Visayas after the death of Melvin Odicta.
Mayor Parojinog and 15 others, including his wife were killed in a series of raids in Ozamiz City.
Police officials said that their men were forced to return fire at armed men as they met violent resistance while serving six search warrants for violation of Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulations Act of 2013.
Parajinog’s daughter, Ozamiz Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog, and her brother were arrested during the raid and brought to Camp Crame where they were booked before being taken to the PNP Custodial Center.
According to PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief, Director Roel B. Obusan, the arrest of the two and at least eight others during the raids is proof that the police did not mean to kill the Parojinogs and their bodyguards and other members of the household.
“Kaya nga may nahuli tayo, kasi we are not meant to kill; yung mga lumalaban lang…It erases the doubt of the lawyer na they are meant to be liquidated kasi if that’s really our intention, napatay na sana lahat; si Madam Nova, wala na rin sana,” the PNP-CIDG chief said
“We really intend to bring them to justice and for them to answer justice alive. Kaya lang ang nangyayari kung minsan, may laban kasi sila yung nag-maintain ng private army and we were fired upon before entering the premises,” Obusan added.
“I hope those are things na maiiwasan sa susunod: wag na tayong maglabanan, sumur ender na lang, tapusin na yung mga ginagawang mali at mag-heed sa request or sa pakiusap ng ating Presidente,” he stressed.
Gen. de la Rosa said that he wanted the Parajinog patriarch alive “to answer the charges against him but was killed when he resisted arrest.”
”I want my men alive more than him. Lagi kong sinasabi yan. After the smoke is clear, it should be the good man standing and the bad man lying on the pavement,” he said.
Obusan said that Vice Mayor Parojinog and her brother Reynaldo were taken to Camp Crame not only as part of measures to secure them but also to save cost in the filing of charges against them.
“We applied for search warrant dito, so court of origin is Manila. So we have to commit persons and pieces of evidence dito sa Manila. That’s why they are being brought here. As part of the evaluation, kung ano mang magandang gawin sa case analysis mamaya on all the evidences and everything, kung legally possible na mailipat na rin dito yung pagfa-file ng information against them, kung papayag ang national prosecutor’s office, dito na lang to save cost,” he said.
Meanwhile, Councilors Irene Luansing and Michael Tagal will be acting mayor and vice mayor, respectively, according to Catalino Uy, officer-in-charge of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). (PhilAmPress)