MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte stood by policemen behind the Ozamiz City raid that led to the death of Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and 14 others.
Asked if he thought there was abuse of power during the raid, Duterte said the security personnel had no choice but to shoot the Parojinogs dead.
"The police and the military should make sure that their enemies are dead. Otherwise, if the other guy can still pull the trigger, you will end up with a dead police or a dead military soldier," said Duterte on Wednesday, August 2.
He was giving a media interview on the sidelines of the Bureau of Internal Revenue's anniversary in Quezon City.
Police claimed Mayor Parojinog's security personnel shot at them hence the need to use deadly force. Parojinog's camp denies this.
Duterte said the Parojinogs got what they deserved, since they used their influence as a political clan to supposedly traffic drugs, and order the deaths of policemen who got in their way.
"You can ask the ordinary citizen of Ozamiz. Ask them how many police who did not obey them died. They were running the city as if it was a feudal state of the family," said the President.
"That's why I said, 'Don't do that. If you don't follow' – then people ask, 'Why did they die?'" he added.
He also responded to suspicions voiced by senators Franklin Drilon and Richard Gordon surrounding the nighttime serving of search warrants for the Ozamiz raid and the jail raid that led to the death of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.
"The criticism that [it should have been done], preferably daytime, but if an operation against shabu is not carried on during daytime because there is light, the police can go there any time convenient for them to arrest," he said.
"And I will stand by the police there. Nobody does a transaction, unloading of shabu when the sun is up. In public view? That's crazy," said Duterte.
He reminded the public that he declared a "war" against illegal drugs and that collateral damage is to be expected.
"My order to the military and the police and rightly so: to destroy the organization, both the supplier, the users, and everybody connected with the organization because they keep alive the trade," Duterte said.
The Parojinogs are a powerful political clan in Ozamiz City known to have ties with criminals and criminal groups. (READ: The Parojinogs and the tangled webs they wove)
Mayor Parojinog himself was one of the leaders of the Kuratong Baleleng Gang, which started as an anti-communist vigilante group when his father Octavio Sr founded it, but morphed into a criminal gang.
Parojinog was among the mayors in Duterte's list of suspected narcopoliticians.
His daughter, Ozamiz City Vice Mayor Nova Parojinog, was romantically involved with Bilibid convict and drug lord Herbert Colanggo.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.