Ozamiz City Mayor, 14 others killed in police raids

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 30) — Fifteen people including Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr. were killed in an exchange of gunfire between the mayor's security team and police serving search warrants in the clan's properties Sunday morning, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said.

The shootout took place  at several of the family's properties in Barangays Baybay San Roque and Baybay Santa Cruz around 2:30 a.m.

Authorities confirmed that among the dead were the Mayor's wife, Susan, his brother Board Member Octavio Parojinog Jr., and sister Mona. Three others were injured in the incident.

Northern Mindanao Police Chief Supt. Timoteo Pacleb said the Region 10 Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) together with Misamis Occidental Police Provincial Office and Ozamiz City Police Station were approaching the mayor's residence when Parojinog's men fired shots at the officers and triggered a shootout between the two groups.

Aside from the mayor's house, police also raided Vice Mayor Nova Parojinog's house, two of the Parojinog clan's farms, and other properties, Pacleb said.

Seven were killed in the raid in Brgy. Baybay San Roque, while six were killed in Brgy. Baybay Sta. Cruz. A total of P1.4 million was retrieved from the raid.

Three rifle grenades, bags of suspected illegal drug shabu, a firearm, and cash were found inside the mayor's house, Ozamiz City stringer Thata Roxas from the Mindanaoan Broadcasting Channel told CNN Philippines.

Suspected shabu, an M-16 rifle, and cash were also found inside Vice Mayor Nova Parojinog's house.

Vice Mayor Parojinog, who survived the encounter, was arrested and is being held at the Ozamiz City Police Office.

The vice mayor and her brother Reynaldo "Dodo" Parojinog Jr. will be flown to Manila on Monday for inquest proceedings. Both were included in the search warrants.


Alleged links to drugs

In a press briefing on Sunday, Ozamiz City Police Chief Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido said that the Parojinogs were the source of illegal drugs in Ozamiz.

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

READ: Duterte's drug list: What we know so far

However, Espenido said the mayor had been sending surrender feelers before but did not follow through.

"Nag-ano siya sakin na mag-surrender pero kalaunan nung magsama na sila ni Vice Mayor di na natuloy," he said.

[Translation: He said he wanted to surrender, but later he and the Vice Mayor decided not to push through with it.]

He also denied the deaths were extrajudicial killings, saying firefight had ensued during the encounter.

"Makapagsabi ako na walang EJK dito kasi tingnan mo lang mga huli natin… Dito ang nangyari, ganito naman ang nawitness ninyo na may mga firefight na nangyari so hindi sa ganun," he said.

[Translation: I can say there is no EJK here because look at all of those we arrested... What happened here, as you witnessed, was there was a firefight so it's not like that.]

Parojinog is the third mayor in the President's list of "narco-politicians" to be killed in operations against the police.

In October, Datu Saudi Ampatuan Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom and nine others were killed in anti-drug operations conducted by the police in North Cotabato.

READ: Maguindanao mayor in Duterte drug list, 9 others killed in clash with police

More than a week later, Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa was killed in an alleged shootout in his cell at the Leyte Sub-Provincial Jail in Baybay City.

READ: Albuera Mayor Espinosa, 1 other inmate killed in jail cell shootout - CIDG

The Palace on Sunday reacted to news of the raid, saying it had vowed to intensify the government's campaign against illegal drugs.

"The Parojinogs, if you would recall, are included in PRRD's list of personalities involved in the illegal drug trade." Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said.

Lacson links clan to Kuratong Baleleng group

Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson also reacted to the deaths, saying "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."

Lacson also tagged the clan as leaders of crime syndicate Kuratong Baleleng group, which was active during his years in the PNP.

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

"While the group started as an anti-communist group under the supervision of the military in that area, overtime they were reportedly transformed into a criminal group engaged in KFR (kidnap for ransom), robberies, extortion and other illegal activities," he added.

Drilon: Why are warrants served at before dawn?

Senator Drilon, meanwhile questioned why the search warrants for the properties were served before dawn, saying search warrants are generally served in the daytime.

"Why are search warrants, served before dawn as in the cases of Mayor Espinosa and now, Mayor Parojinog, result  in the deaths of the persons being searched? Both are tagged as drug  lords. Too much of a coincidence?" he said.

"Generally, a search warrant should be served in the daytime. While it maybe also be served anytime of the night, the issuing judge must so expressly specify in the search warrant (Sec 9, Rule 126, Rules of Court)," he added.

Journalist Thata Roxas from the Mindanaoan Broadcasting Channel and Davao City-based journalist Ben Tesiorna contributed to this story.

This story was updated on July 31, 2017.