Ex-Ozamiz Councilor Ardot Parojinog found dead in detention cell

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 4) — Former Ozamiz City councilor Ricardo "Ardot" Parojinog was found dead in his detention cell at the Ozamiz Police Station Friday morning, police said.

Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Camilo Cascolan said "no violence was noted" in the death of the long-time fugitive and member of a political clan tagged in the illegal drug trade.

Ardot has been detained at the PNP Custodial Center since 2018, but he flew to Ozamiz on Thursday to attend a hearing the next day.

Nung morning… hindi na siya nagrerespond so nagpatawag ng mga doctors (This morning, he was no longer responding so authorities called the doctors),” Police Brig. Gen. Rolando Anduyan, Regional Director of PNP-Northern Mindanao, told CNN Philippines.

Ardot was pronounced dead, without any bruises or other physical signs of foul play, Anduyan said. Authorities are still waiting for the report of health officers.

Cascolan ordered the Ozamiz police chief and all personnel on night shift duty to be put under restrictive custody and to be available for investigation. He also ordered that the PNP Custodial Center security team under Police Lt. Col. Jiger Noceda be among those investigated.

Ardot is the brother of slain Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr, who was killed along with 15 others when police served warrants at the clan’s properties in July 2017. It also led to the arrest of his niece Vice Mayor Nova Parojinog and nephew Reynaldo Parojinog, Jr. Ardot was not home during the raid.

President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017 placed a P5 million reward for the capture of Parojinog, who was being tracked down by the authorities for his alleged ties in the illegal drug trade. In July 2018, he was deported back to the Philippines from Taiwan. He tried but failed to secure protection from the Supreme Court from alleged harassment and threats carried out by authorities.

Officials have tagged members of the Parojinog clan as the source of illegal drugs in the city and have allegedly given orders to their private army to kill police officers who refused to cooperate in their operations. Duterte named Nova and her father Reynaldo Sr. as among the narco-politicians operating in Mindanao.

Reynaldo Jr. was sentenced to life imprisonment for drug possession, while Nova is facing charges for illegal possession of firearms and of dangerous drugs.