Police denies rub-out in drug raid slay of city mayor, 14 others reminiscent of Leyte town official killing

(L-R) Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido and Ozamis City Mayor Rey Parojinog Sr. (Photo: www.davaotoday.com)

By Daniel Llanto | FilAm Star Correspondent

Amid cries of alleged over-kill and rub-out, the Philippine National Police (PNP) maintained that joint teams from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 10, the Misamis Occidental provincial police and Ozamiz City police were met by gunfire when they tried to serve search warrants for illegal drugs and firearms charges, consequently leading to the slaying of Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr. and 14 others.

Parojinog, his wife Susan, brother Octavio and 12 others were killed in an alleged shoot-out reminiscent of the controversial raid in Albuera, Leyte last year in which Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. was slain. Incidentally, the police director of Albuera at the time is the current Ozamiz City Police Director Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido.

Espenido fended off accusations that they disabled the closed-circuit TV (CCTV) cameras at the Parojinog residential compound last weekend to hide the alleged execution of the Ozamiz mayor. Parojinog was named one of the narco-politicians by President Duterte last year.

The lawyer of the Parojinogs, Jeffrey James Ocang, said it was a rub-out since there was no resistance on the part of the Parojinogs and CCTV cameras were cut prior to the actual operation.

PNP Chief Ronald dela Rosa dismissed the accusations. “I don’t know about that. He is free to claim whatever he wants because he is on the side of the Parojinogs. What do you expect from the lawyer of the Parojinog, to praise the police? No, you cannot expect them to praise us for what we are doing,” Dela Rosa said.

However, Dela Rosa admitted that it was wrong for CIDG operatives to cut the CCTV cameras during the bloody raid.

Aside from the Mayor and others killed, some members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team were also killed, in what police said was a shoot-out in San Roque Lawis, Ozamiz City, according to Senior Supt. Jaysen de Guzman, Misamis Occidental provincial police director.

Chief Superintendent Timoteo Pacleb, Northern Mindanao police regional director, said the mayor’s daughter, Ozamiz Vice-mayor Nova Princess Echavez, and son Reynaldo Jr. were arrested during the series of operations that began at around 2:30 a.m. last July 31.

Police said about PHP 1.4 million in cash, half a kilo of suspected shabu and firearms were recovered from the vice-mayor’s home.

The Parojinogs supposedly founded the Kuratong Baleleng gang, which started out as an anti-communist vigilante group supported by the military but later turned to criminal activities including bank and armored van robberies as well as kidnapping, extortion and illegal gambling.

In 1995, Lacson headed a police unit that killed members of the Kuratong Baleleng gang under Wilson Sorronda.

“Wala ako doon noong nangyari kaya hindi ko alam kung pinagtatanggal nga ‘yan (CCTV cameras), pero hindi tama,” Dela Rosa said in a press briefing at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

“Kaya nga nag-imbita ka pa ng taga-media, mag-imbita ka pa ng barangay official para transparent ang ginagawa sa pag-serve ng search warrant,” he added.

Espenido admitted they intentionally “paralyzed” the CCTV for security reasons. Espenido explained that they did not want their confidential agents and witnesses to be “identified” on the CCTV cameras.