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Hontiveros seeks Senate probe on 'state-sanctioned massacre' in Ozamiz

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday urged his colleagues to launch a “fair and independent” probe on the police raids in Ozamiz City that resulted in the death of Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr. and 15 others.

Hontiveros said there are “serious accusations” against the Ozamiz police that could indicate the operation was a “state-sanctioned massacre.”

“I call on my fellow senators to uncover the truth behind this bloody incident. It is vital that there be a fair and independent investigation,” she said.

While there is a possibility that the claim about the Parojinog family being involved in illegal drug trade is true, Hontiveros said that is not an excuse for disregarding the rule of law.

“The government is the protector of the law and of its people. It is not a syndicate or a mafia. The campaign of the government against society’s criminals must not itself become a crime,” she said.

The Parojinogs came to national attention after their names appeared on President Rodrigo Duterte’s list of politicians allegedly linked to the drug trade.

Police officers who conducted the raid claimed they were met by a volley of gunfire as they were about to enter the Parojinogs’ compound before dawn Sunday. The authorities had six warrants to search the houses in the compound for loose firearms.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, who earlier said there was nothing irregular in the serving of search warrants before day time, said Hontiveros should formalize her call through the filing of a Senate resolution.

“Hindi naman pwedeng panawagan, tatawag ng hearing. Mag-file ng resolution and let’s see....Let’s see what’s the text of the resolution. At kung may ebidensya to show, at least to justify a hearing,” Lacson said in an interview.

Lacson chairs the Senate public order and dangerous drugs committee.

“Anong irregularity for example?...Mahirap kasi ang kada police operation at may namamatay tatawag tayo ng hearing. Imagine anong hitsura ng Senado tuwing may mamamatay sa police operation tatawag tayo ng hearing?” he said.

Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, for his part, said he would support any resolution calling for a Senate probe into the bloody police raids in Ozamiz.

Drilon, also a lawyer, said he finds it odd that the warrant was served before dawn.

“Search warrant ito. It’s a little difficult to search for something in darkness. On this occasion, why was the search conducted in darkness?” Drilon pointed out. —ALG/KVD, GMA News