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Ozamiz mayor, 14 others killed in predawn police raid

Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and several others were killed in a predawn drug raid on Sunday.

Police Regional Office 10 director Chief Superintendent Timoteo Pacleb said that based on an updated report from the Misamis Occidental Provincial Police Office (PPO), a total of 15 people were killed in the clash which took place while policemen were serving search warrants on homes belonging to the Parojinog family.

Also killed in the clash were the mayor's wife, Susan, and his brother, Provincial Board Member Octavio Parojinog.

An initial report said seven people were killed by the police in the clash, while one police officer was slightly injured.

Misamis Occidental PPO chief Senior Superintendent Jaysen de Guzman said that the police officers were met by a volley of gunfire as they were about to enter the Parojinogs' compound at around 2:30 a.m.

De Guzman said that after an almost two-hour clash, the police officers were able to breach the Parojinog's houses, but was still met by resistance from the mayor's group.

The police authorities had six warrants to search the houses of Mayor Parojinog, his daughter Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog-Echavez, Board Member Parojinog, City Councilor Ricardo Parojinog, and one other for loose firearms.

Parojinog-Echavez and her brother, Reynaldo Jr., are currently in custody, while several others were invited for questioning.

De Guzman said seized from the house of the slain mayor were grenades, rifles, .45 pistols, and illegal drugs and money.

According to the Ozamiz police, they recovered a total of one kilo of shabu from the mayor and vice mayor's homes.

Also found in Councilor Parojinog's house were "a large [amount] of shabu and paraphernalia," a shotgun, three rocket propelled-grenade launchers, two hand grenades and M79 ammunition.

Councilor Parojinog was not in his house during the raid.

Espenido in charge

The operation was led by Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido, Ozamiz City police chief.

Espenido was the chief of police of Albuera, Leyte, whose former mayor, Rolando Espinosa, was killed by policemen inside his detention cell last November.

Superintendent Marvin Marcos and 18 other policemen, including members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group 8, are facing homicide charges over the killing of Espinosa.

In a press conference, Espenido said that the police are awaiting the SOCO report on whether Parojinog was killed by a gunshot or by shrapnel.

He added that the police forces "paralyzed" the homes' security cameras to protect the identity of the confidential agents accompanying them.

In response to Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon's query as to why the search warrants were served at that early hour, Espenido said that they chose the time to make sure that no children or civilians were around who could be used as human shields.

Espenido added that if a Senate investigation into the matter were to be held, "Obedient lang tayo kung ano ang mandate or orders sa taas. We are obliged to present ourselves para masagot ang tanong nila. Wala tayong problema."

Espenido also said that the police is working to check if the drugs came from jail.

"Very legitimate operation"

Pacleb, meanwhile, assured that the operation in Ozamiz City was legitimate.

"Naniniwala po kami na ito ay very legitimate operation. Nagkaroon lang po ng putukan so nangyari po na may mga namatay po sa pag-search," the regional police commander said.

The Parojinogs came to national attention after their names appeared on President Rodrigo Duterte's list of personalities allegedly linked to illegal drugs trade.

Duterte said Mayor Parojinog is the father-in-law of Herbert Colanggo, one of the top drug lords in the country.

While the elder Parojinog denied that Colanggo was his son-in-law, he admitted that the latter was Parojinog-Echavez's boyfriend.

Parojinog and Parojinog-Echavez were likewise charged with graft before the Sandiganbayan over the alleged anomalous contract for the renovation of a gymnasium in 2008.

The case, however, was dismissed due to inordinate delay on the part of the Office of the Ombudsman in conducting the investigation for the case. — with Margaret Claire Layug/LBG/ALG/BM, GMA News