Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo “Aldong” Parojinog, Sr. and 14 others were killed in simultaneous pre-dawn drug raids conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Sunday, July 30.
At least six search warrants were reportedly served by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and operatives of the Ozamiz City police at several of the family’s properties in Barangays Baybay San Roque and Baybay Santa Cruz around 2:30 a.m.
Among those killed in the raid include Parojinog’s wife, Susan; his brother, Misamis Occidental Board Member Octavio Parojinog Jr.; and his sister Mona.
Meanwhile, his daughter, Nova and his son, Reynaldo Jr., were arrested for their alleged involvement in illegal drugs and for possessing loose firearms.
Parojinog and his daughter Nova, who sits as the city’s vice mayor, were included in the list of alleged drug lords and narco politicians announced by President Rodrigo Duterte last year.
The Ozamiz City mayor was also tagged as the leader of the Kuratong Baleleng crime syndicate that gained national attention for its robbery, smuggling, kidnapping, murder, and extortion, among other crimes.
In a statement, Chief Superintendent Timoteo Pacleb, director of the Northern Mindanao regional police, said the cops who were trying to serve the warrant were met with gunfire while approaching the mayor’s residence.
“The PNP personnel serving the search warrants were met with volley of fire from their security, prompting our law enforcers to retaliate,” the regional commander said.
Authorities said they were able to recover more than one kilogram of shabu from the houses of the Parojinogs. Firearms were also reportedly recovered, including an M16 rifle, two hand grenades, and a .45 pistol.
Denying the allegations police intended to wipe out the Parojinog family, Pacleb assured that the raid is a “very legitimate operation.”
Several senators, however, questioned the raid, particularly the disabling of CCTV cameras prior to the incident and the time of serving the warrant.
“All 15 suspected drug lords at the scene of the crime and their ‘armed to the teeth’ bodyguards are killed. No injuries or casualties on the side of the PNP. Unrealistic. This can be done to anyone,” said Liberal Party President Senator Kiko Pangilinan.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, also asked, “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 was referring to the late Mayor Rolando Espinosa of Albuera who was killed in an alleged “shoot out” during a raid conducted by the police last year.
But Senator Panfilo Lacson said there is presently no reason for the Senate conduct a probe on the Ozamiz City raid.
“At this point, I don’t see any reason why the Senate should investigate because that was a police operation,” Lacson told reporters.
Lacson, also former PNP chief, chairs the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs.
He then added, “Unless something develops later showing that (the Parojinogs) were summarily executed… it’s not good that the Senate investigate every police operation.”
In a statement, PNP Chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa maintained that the Ozamiz raid is not a rubout incident.
“They were meant to be operated upon, not liquidated. It depends. If they fight back, then there will be an encounter. We won’t have control over that,” the PNP Chief said in a media briefing.
He went on to say, “I want him (Parojinog) alive but since he fought back, then… I want my men alive more than him. After the smoke has cleared it should be a good man standing.”
He also pointed out that “any time is a legal time to serve a search warrant.”
For the PNP Chief, however, the disabling of CCTV prior the operation was wrong. He claimed that he is unaware that the enforcers tinkered the security cameras.
“If you were to ask me it’s right to disable it, it’s wrong. CCTV forms a part of transparency, so why must it be disabled?” Dela Rosa asked.