Deaths after nighttime warrants suspicious – Drilon
MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon expressed concern over the killing of Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog during a raid on Sunday, July 30.
Parojinog and 11 others were killed in a police operation at around 2:30 in the morning at his residence. The cops had been set to serve a search warrant.
A police report said the mayor's security personnel were the first ones to fire, which prompted the authorities serving the warrant to retaliate. The mayor's aide Jeffrey Ocang, however, denied this.
Parojinog was among the mayors included in President Rodrigo Duterte's drug list. After the raid, his daughter, Ozamiz City Vice Mayor Nova Parojinog, was arrested.
Drilon stressed that the circumstances of the incident are similar to how Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr was killed.
Espinosa, another mayor Duterte tagged in illegal drug activities, was shot dead in his detention cell last November. Cops were supposed to serve a search warrant at 4 am when Espinosa and another inmate who was also killed allegedly fought back.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Senate panel that looked into Espinosa's death both tagged the killing as a "rubout." The Department of Justice (DOJ), however, downgraded the charges against cops from murder to homicide.
"Why are search warrants, served before dawn as in the cases of Mayor Espinosa and now, Mayor Parojinog, result in the deaths of the persons being searched? Both are tagged as drug lords. Too much of a coincidence?" Drilon said in a statement.
He added that search warrants are generally served during daytime and court rules state that the issuing judge must specify why it must be served at night, in certain cases.
Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo Lacson highlighted the mayor's links to the notorious Kuratong Baleleng syndicate.
"The founder of Kuratong Baleleng was Octavio Sr alias Ongkoy, the late father of the slain mayor, Reynaldo and board member Octavio Jr," said Lacson, a former chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
"While the group started as an anti-communist group under the supervision of the military in that area, over time, they were reportedly transformed into a criminal group engaged in KFR (kidnapping for ransom), robberies, extortion, and other illegal activities," he added.
Lacson, as former head of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF), was linked to the killing of Kuratong Baleleng members in 1995. The case was dismissed for lack of probable cause.
Parojinog is the 3rd mayor mentioned in Duterte's drug list to die.
Datu Saudi Ampatuan Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom was also killed last October after a shootout at a police checkpoint. Dimaukom's group was suspected of transporting illegal drugs.
In response to Parojinog's death, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the government would "intensify the drug campaign." – Rappler.com