Police seize shabu worth P32-M in Ozamiz City

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Ozamiz City (CNN Philippines, December 6) — Shabu worth about P32-million was seized from three suspects, one with ties to an alleged drug lord in this city, police said Wednesday.

Ozamiz Police Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido said they apprehended Butch Merino, Melden Rabanes, and Rosielyn Walohan on Tuesday in anti-illegal drug operations.

Rabanes is believed be the first cousin of Ozamiz City Vice Mayor Nova Parojinog, while Merino was the vice-mayor's former driver, police said.

The three suspects were charged with illegal possession of firearms and illegal drugs.

Their arrest comes a day after President Rodrigo Duterte allowed the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies to rejoin the drug war, which will still be headed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

Police confiscated a kilo of shabu from Merino at a checkpoint, and more were seized in other locations during follow-up operations.

Espenido said they also recovered a vault containing four packs of alleged shabu, weighing about two kilograms.

Rabanes told police that the vault was owned by Vice Mayor Parojinog, and was under the custody of a certain Michelle Ong.

Police investigation revealed that some of the illegal drugs originated from the towns of Dumingag and Siayan in Zamboanga del Sur, around 100 km south of Ozamiz City.

Ozamiz mayor Reynaldo Parojinog, Sr., along with 15 other people, was killed when police, led by Espenido, served search warrants at several Parojinog properties in Ozamiz City on July 30. President Duterte had tagged the Parojinog family in his list of so-called narcopoliticians.

Vice Mayor Parojinog, meanwhile, is facing charges of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, and illegal possession of dangerous drugs. Her brother, Reynaldo Jr., is facing similar charges, as well as illegal possession of explosives. They are detained at the police headquarters in Camp Crame in Quezon City.

Marlon Panares in Pagadian City contributed to this story.