Malacañang 'presumes regularity' in Ozamiz police raid

REGULAR POLICE OPERATION. Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra answers questions from the media. Screenshot of Rappler video

REGULAR POLICE OPERATION. Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra answers questions from the media.

Screenshot of Rappler video

MANILA, Philippines – Until an investigation proves otherwise, Malacañang presumes everything was aboveboard in the police operation that led to the deaths of Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and 14 others. 

"There is a presumption of regularity in all this. If there is anyone who will complain that something irregular happened, then an investigation will have to be done. For now, we presume regularity," said Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Monday, July 31, during a media interview.

Parojinog was among those included in President Rodrigo Duterte's list of suspected narco-politicians. 

His daughter, Ozamiz City Vice Mayor Nova Parojinog, a survivor of the raid, has called on Duterte to investigate the cops involved in the operation. The police, who were supposed to serve a search warrant, claim Parojinog's group opened fire on them hence the need to use deadly force.

Guevarra said there is no need for the Palace to create a special task force to probe the incident. 

"There is no need because existing structures are operating right now. We don't find any need to create an ad hoc or task force because the structures are in place," he said.

Internal police procedures to investigate anything anomalous in the raid would be sufficient, added the Palace official, and Duterte need not involve himself in police matters. (READ: Dela Rosa: 'Paralyzed' CCTVs during Parojinog raid 'wrong')

Guevarra also maintained that Duterte was not involved in any specific way in the deadly raid, apart from his "general" orders to security forces on catching drug suspects. 

"Aside from his general instruction to eliminate drugs and all people who supported illegal drug trade, he has no particular or specific participation in any actual police operation," said Guevarra.

Aside from Mayor Parojinog, also killed in the raid were his wife Susan, brother Octavio Jr, and sister Mona.

Cops said they recovered grenades, ammunition, as well as illegal drugs during the raid.

While the police said they retaliated in response to gunshots from the mayor's security personnel, an aide of the Parojinog family said the mayor's camp did not fire any shot. 

Parojinog is the 3rd mayor in Duterte's drug list to be killed.

Last November, Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr was killed during a nighttime raid in a provincial jail.

Duterte had defended the officers involved in the raid and ordered their reinstatement, with critics saying the decision would worsen the nation's "culture of impunity."

Back in October, Datu Saudi Ampatuan Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom was killed in a shootout at a police checkpoint on suspicion he and his security personnel were transporting illegal drugs, authorities said.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has pointed out similarities in the deaths of Parojinog and Espinosa. He said it was suspicious that search warrants served in the nighttime led to the deaths of the local executives.

Commenting on Sunday's raid, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said: "The administration vowed to intensify the drug campaign.”

Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said Parojinog's death should serve as a warning to other mayors supposedly involved in the drug trade to surrender to police without putting up a fight. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

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 pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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