PNP Chief: Ozamiz raids legitimate, no rubout of Parojinogs

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 31) — Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa on Monday insisted the simultaneous operations by authorities that killed Ozamiz Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr. and 14 others were legitimate, adding they would have lived if they did not resist search.

"They were meant to be operated upon, not liquidated. Depende na 'yun kung manlaban sila, then magkakaroon ng engkwentro. Wala na tayong control," he said in a media briefing.

[Translation: It depends. If they fight back, then there will be an encounter. We won't have control over that.]

Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Director Roel Obusan said they followed protocol for police operations.

"Matagal naming pinagplanuhan. In fact, we followed all procedures of the PNP, as well as the law. We applied for search warrant," Obusan said at the same news briefing.

Fifteen people including incumbent Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog, Sr. died in a shootout during police operations in Ozamiz, Misamis Occidental  2:30 a.m. of Sunday. Killed in the raid along with Mayor Parojinog, who is believed to be a politician coddling the illegal drug trade, were his wife Susan, siblings Mona and Octavio, and 11 security personnel and supporters.

The authorities denied allegations the police operations were meant to wipe out the Parojinog family and their supporters.

"We are not meant to kill, 'yung mga lumalaban lang. May walo pa tayong nahuli, yung mga lalaki na armed members nila na sumuko. It erases the doubt na they are meant to be liquidated. Kasi if that's really our intention, namatay na sana lahat. Si Madam Nova, wala na rin sana," Obusan said.

[Translation: We are not meant to kill, only those who fight back. We have arrested eight, armed men who surrendered.  It erases the doubt they are meant to be liquidated because if that's really our intention, then they would have all died. Nova would have died, too.]

Timing of serving of search warrants defended

Ozamiz police said they were conducting a joint implementation of search warrants on properties of the mayor, his daughter Vice Mayor Nova Parojinog, his son Reynaldo Parojinog Jr., and four more relatives and supporters for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

Authorities said they were about to serve the warrants in six different locations when the mayor's security and supporters guarding his residence fired upon the cops.

Related: Ozamiz City Mayor, 14 others killed in police raids

Authorities said there is nothing questionable about serving the warrants in the early morning.

"Any time is a legal time to serve a search warrant," PNP Chief Dela Rosa said.

Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos Villavert of Quezon City  Branch 89, who issued the search warrants on the Parojinogs said the documents may be served "any day or night."

Obusan added, "In order to gain maximum advantage, na hindi mag-leak yung information, then we have to do it on our own time. We have to dictate the schedule."

Senate Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon questioned why the search warrants for the properties were served before dawn, saying search warrants are generally served in the daytime.

Liberal Party President Senator Kiko Pangilinan questioned the timing the warrants were served and the disabling of CCTV cameras prior to the incident.

"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. Hindi makatotohanan. Pwedeng gawin ito kaninuman," he said in a statement.

PNP: Wrong to tinker with CCTV during police raids

Dela Rosa said he was unaware that the CCTV cameras in the homes properties of the Parojinog family being disabled prior to the raids, but said this was wrong.

"Kung tanungin mo ako kung tama bang tanggalin, hindi tama. 'Yung CCTV, that forms a part of transparency, so bakit kailangan patayin?" he said.

The head of Ozamiz police, Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido said on Sunday the CCTVs were "paralyzed" for the safety of their agents who accompanied the operations.

"Takot na sila ang mabalikan sakaling sila ang makita sa camera or sa picture. 'Yan for security reasons. Kaya talagang i-paralyze natin 'yung CCTV for that reason. Hindi natin mina-mani obra yung CCTV na sirain or i-delete," he said.

[Translation: They are afraid someone will go after them if they are seen in the photos. That is for security reasons. We needed to paralyze the CCTV for that reason. We are not manipulating the CCTV by deleting files.]

Espenido was the police chief then of the town of Albuera in Leyte when its mayor, Rolando Espinosa Sr. was shot dead in his jail cell by CIDG operatives on November 5, 2016. He was then reassigned a month later to Ozamiz City in Misamis Occidental.

Senator Panfilo Lacson cited the differing circumstances surrounding the serving of search warrants on mayors Espinosa and Parojinog by CIDG police and the shootout that ensued.

"Whatever are the circumstances of the deaths, at least this time, the mayor and the others killed were not under detention in a government facility," said Lacson.

Lacson also tagged the Parojinog clan as leaders of crime syndicate Kuratong Baleleng group, which was notorious for robberies when he was PNP Chief.

"The founder of Kuratong Baleleng was Octavio Sr. alias Ongkoy, the late father of the slain mayor, Reynaldo and board member Octavio Jr.," the senator said.

Dela Rosa said they wanted the Ozamiz City mayor alive to answer the allegations against him, but not at the expense of the lives of police officers.

"I want him alive to answer charges. Pero kung lumaban siya then I want my men alive more than him kapag siya ay lumaban… After the smoke is cleared, it should be the good man standing, and the bad man lying on the pavement," he said.

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Dela Rosa said he was in favor of making police officers wear body cameras during operations.

On Duterte's list of narcopoliticians

President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier tagged Parojinog and his daughter among the narcopoliticians operating in Mindanao. The two have denied the charges.

Vice Mayor Parojinog and her brother Reynaldo were brought to the PNP Custodial Center in Quezon City from Ozamiz on Monday for inquest proceedings. 

Obusan said Nova Parojinog was the former girlfriend of Herbert Colanggo, a convicted kidnapper detained at the national penitentiary.

"We conducted validation, it turns out continuing ang kaniyang drug trade (continuing drug trade)," he said, referring to the vice mayor.