MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Parojinogs of Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental, on Sunday, July 30, became the latest addition to the list of so-called narcopoliticians killed by police.
In 2016, two other mayors were killed: Samsudin Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao, in October, and Rolando Espinosa Sr of Albuera, Leyte, in November.
The deaths came after President Rodrigo Duterte tagged them as politicians involved in the illegal drug trades.
What happened in between for Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr?
Duterte names more than 150 officials from the judiciary and local government units who are allegedly involved in the illegal drugs trade. Some on the list turn out to be either already dead or not in service anymore.
Among those named in the President’s list are Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr, his daughter Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog-Echavez, and his brother ex-Board Member Ricardo Parojinog Ardot of Misamis Occidental.
The vice mayor, Nova, is the partner of Bilibid drug lord Herbert Colanggo, but the mayor denies having any business ties with the drug lord.
Joining other politicians and police officers linked by the President to the drug trade, the 3 Parojinogs report to the Camp Crame to clear their names.
The Parojinogs consistently deny the allegation, claiming they have been fighting illegal drugs since 2001.
"My name has been dragged despite 15 years of efforts to transform our city. You know all about this, we have been fighting drugs," the mayor says.
AUGUST 12, 2016
The National Police Commission (Napolcom) issues a resolution withdrawing the “duties, obligations, powers, and prerogatives vested into Parojinog as Napolcom deputy.”
Northern Mindanao Police Regional Director Chief Superintendent Noel Constantino also orders the recall of Parojinog’s police security escorts and bodyguards, adding that the politician can employ the service of private security with the approval of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
The Parojinogs surrender 16 high-powered firearms to the Ozamiz City Police after their licenses are revoked, as announced by PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa.
Firearms surrendered to the regional police headquarters in Camp Vicente Alagar in Cagayan de Oro City include M16 Bushmaster, FN, SOCOM II, AK45, Galil, Uzi, and Glock.
File photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler
The houses of two individuals connected to the Parojinogs are included in the raid: Edgar Echavez, the estranged husband of Nova Princess Parojinog, and Manuel Francisco, the husband of Reynaldo Parojinog’s aunt Rizalina Francisco.
Neither firearms nor drugs are recovered during the raid.
Parojinog welcomes the arrival of a new chief of police, Chief of Inspector Jovie Espenido, who was previously the municipal police chief of Albuera, Leyte.
The mayor says he looks forward to working with Espenido in cracking down on illegal drugs and maintaining peace and order in his area. He says "he can really dig deeper and the truth will come out."
Espenido’s previous assignment led to the arrest of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr, whom Duterte had accused of protecting his son, alleged Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.
But months after surrendering, Espinosa was killed inside his jail cell in what the National Bureau of Investigation called a “rubout.”
Duterte says he plans to confront mayors linked to illegal drugs, warning that they should resign or face death.
"Tatawagin ko 'yung mga mayor, i-lock ko, kami-kami lang. Sabihin ko talaga, 'Ganoon kakapal 'yung 'pinakita ko sa inyo. Hanapin mo 'yung pangalan mo diyan, mayor. Putang ina, 'pag nandiyan pangalan mo, may problema ka,'" he warned. "Either you resign or make a clean break of everything, come up with clean nose and we'll talk."
(I will call the mayors, I will lock them in so it's just us. I will really tell them, "The list I gave you is this thick. Look for your name there, mayor. If your name is there, son of a bitch, you have a problem, I will really kill you.")
Almost a year since being named in Duterte’s drug list, the mayor and 14 others – including his wife, brother, and sister – are killed in a police raid.
Police say they were serving a warrant when the mayor’s security guards fired at them, prompting an exchange of shots. An aide to the Parojinogs contests this, saying the mayor’s camp did not fire a shot.
Meanwhile, the vice mayor and her brother are arrested.
The police provincial chief says cops recovered grenades, ammunition, and illegal drugs in the raid.
A close relative of Mayor Parojinog, who requests not to be named, says the mayor knew there was a threat to his life.
The city police chief says the mayor was willing to surrender prior to the raid, but that he did not push through with it.
Espenido says they confirmed that the family was involved in illegal drugs, but could not confirm whether they came from Colanggo.
Nova Princess, who has assumed as city mayor, issues a special order designating Second Councilor Irene Luansing as officer in charge of the Office of the City Mayor.
Nova and her brother Reynaldo Jr fly to Manila for inquest proceedings.
During the flag-raising ceremony the flag at city hall is flown at half-mast.
Nova Princess is not able to resume her duties as city mayor. Under the law, she has to resume her duties 3 days after designating a caretaker official, or the highest elected official present in the city will have to assume the duties of acting mayor.
Luansing, even if she is only the second councilor, has assumed mayoral duties. This is because First Councilor Ricardo Parojinog has been on leave of absence for months. 3rd Councilor Michael Tagal takes the vice mayoral seat.
The regional director of the Department of the Interior and Local Government in Northern Mindanao issues recognition of the assumption of office of Luansing and Tagal.
Luansing faces city hall employees for the first time since assuming mayoral post. In her speech during flag-raising ceremonies, Luansing stresses that the local government operations has never been hampered because they are “able to make operational the leadership succession provided by law.”
She assures the people of Ozamiz and President Duterte that basic services will continue while also asking prayers “for continued personal growth to surmount the challenge of restarting the momentum of public service which is the principal reason we public officials are given political powers.”
The Department of Justice files cases against Nova Princess and Reynaldo Jr with the Regional Trial Court of Ozamiz. Two judges have expressed reservation in handling their cases, suggesting that these be heard in courts outside of Ozamiz.
Nova Princess and Reynaldo Jr file a petition for a 48-hour furlough, asking that they be allowed to attend the August 14 burial of their parents. Hearing for the petition is set on August 11. – With reports from Bobby Lagsa / Rappler.com
Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.