MANILA, Philippines – Amid allegations of discrepancies in a police operation that led to a shootout and the death of Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa reminded the public of the consequences police previously faced after dealing with the infamous family.
Cops – from the local police unit, the local Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), and the CIDG from Metro Manila – served search warrants early Sunday morning, July 30, against several properties belonging to or associated with the Parojinog family. The mayor is part of President Rodrigo Duterte's list of so-called narco-politicians.
Mayor Parojinog, his wife, brother, sister, and 11 others were killed because they supposedly shot at police attempting to serve the warrant. (READ: Deaths after nighttime warrants suspicious – Drilon)
Ozamiz City police chief Jovani Espenido, who led efforts to investigate and possibly detain the Parojinogs, earlier admitted to media that they "paralyzed" the security cameras in the homes of the mayor to protect the identities of civilian informants who helped them in the operation.
Espenido said witnesses were afraid to be caught on camera helping police.
"Hindi tama (It's wrong)," said Dela Rosa on Monday, July 31, when asked about the deactivation of security cameras. He said the PNP itself would find out why it was necessary to turn off the cameras.
Still, the PNP chief said the operation was legitimate, downplaying questions raised by the Parojinog camp.
While the PNP's Internal Affairs Service (IAS) would be investigating the operation – a standard move in operations that involve gun deaths – Dela Rosa said he would rather see suspects, rather than his own men, dead "when the smoke clears."
CIDG chief Director Roel Obusan said the CIDG and local police made sure everything in the operation was aboveboard. (READ: Ozamiz mayor wanted to surrender before raid – police)
This is not the first time police have faced off with the Parojinogs, whose links to the criminal world are common knowledge among the police. Dela Rosa said all sorts of crime – from drugs, high-profile robberies, among others – can be "traced to Ozamiz City."
Back in 1990, a warrant of arrest was served against patriarch Octavio Parojinog for "illegal possession of explosives with destructive arson." The Parojinog patriarch, according to a Newsbreak report, resisted arrest and drew out a hand grenade.
Police, led by a certain Colonel Gadapan, had no choice but to shoot Octavio.
The leadership of the Parojinog business – and the notorious Kuratong Baleleng –was transferred to his son, and Reynaldo's brother Renato. "One after another, members of the arresting team were killed over the next 3 years," the Newsbreak report noted.
Gadapan, who happens to be Dela Rosa's mistah (classmate) from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1986, was a lieutenant at the time of the operation. He eventually left the service because he felt the PNP could no longer protect him, according to Dela Rosa.
"Umalis na lang si Colonel Gadapan dahil naubos 'yung team niya sa intelligence. 'Yun ang kino-consider ng mga pulis sa baba. Tactical 'yung sa kanila, survival. This is not an ordinary family," the PNP chief said.
(Gadapan left because his intelligence team was targeted. That's what police on the ground consider. It's tactical, it's survival. This is not your ordinary family.)
The Ozamiz City vice mayor, Parojinog's daughter Nova, was brought to Camp Crame on Monday morning. Also brought to Manila was her brother, Reynaldo Jr. – Rappler.com