MANILA – Armed with six search warrants, Ozamiz City police and the Criminal Investigation Group (CIDG) of Region 10 raided at dawn Sunday the house of city mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr. and two other areas on reports of guns being illegally kept, and at least 14 people, including the mayor, are dead in an “engagement,” police said.
Senior Supt. Jaysen de Guzman, head of the Misamis Occidental provincial police office, said the CIDG had asked for help of the local police to serve a warrant, but that the combined team was immediately greeted with gunfire as they approached the area in Barangay San Roque Lawis.
De Guzman told Radyo5 that in all, 14 people were dead, up from his initial estimate of “12 to 13.” They included the mayor, his wife Susan and brother Octavio, a board member.
Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog, who had stayed overnight in a friend’s house not far from her mayor-father’s home, was unharmed but was detained and under investigation.
“Itong search warrant na ito ay galing po sa CIDG; nakipag-coordinate sa amin dito sa Misamis Occidental, nagpatulong para sa pag serve ng search warrant nila. There are six search warrants na dala po nila. Sinerve natin ‘yan starting around 2:30 in the morning [These warrants came from the CIDG; they asked the police here in Misamis Occidental for help in serving these. We started serving the warrants at 2:30am],” De Guzman told Radyo5 in an interview.
“Unfortunately upon nearing sa subject natin, they were met by bullet fire. Nag-retaliate ang ating PNP personnel [Unfortunately, as our personnel approached, they were met by bullet fire and they retaliated]; and they took them almost one and a half hours just to clear [the way] so that the warrant can be served to them.”
At around 4 a.m., he said the law enforcers “proceeded to the next three targets” – the house of board member Ricardo Parojinog and their two farms. “After that, [there was another] shootout; so all in all, there are around 14 casualties.”
The Misamis police provincial chief said the 14 killed in the raids included “Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr., his brother and board member Octavio, and his wife Susan.”
The search warrants were sought mainly to get unlicensed firearms, he said, and the lawmen got “assorted na baril. . .M16s, may rifle grenade.” He said accounting is still ongoing and the crime laboratory is still wrapping up its work.
Asked about talk of illegal drugs, de Guzman confirmed, “may nakuha ang CIDG,” and this was in “the presence of media and barangay officials.”
The results of SOCO’s work is being awaited but, according to de Guzman, one of their operatives had claimed that, “nung papasok sila sa kwarto ng mayor, bigla silang pinagbabaril at nakita nila na may security si mayor doon at may hawak na granada kaya napaatras sila. Nagkaroon ng palitan ng putok; may sumabog doon. Tignan natin kung ‘yun talaga ang nakapatay sa mayor. [As our teams were entering the mayor’s room, they were shot at and they saw one of the mayor’s security aides held a grenade, so they retreated. There was an exchange of gunfire, and then an explosion. Let’s see if that’s the one which killed the mayor].”
He said that in the house where they got Vice Mayor Nova Parojinog, security aides also shot at police. He did not know yet at that time what the authorities seized in the house of Reynaldo Jr.
In the house of Ricardo Parajinog – the one apparently referred to as “Ardot” – a security aide who fought it out was gunned down, said De Guzman.
Asked why the lawmen served the warrants at 2:30am, De Guzman replied, “anytime of the day or night naman ‘yan [We’re allowed to serve any time of day or night].”.
Vice mayor fears for life
In a media statement, Police Regional Office (PRO) 10 Director Chief Superintendent Tim Pacleg confirmed the death of Parojinog and the arrest of his vice mayor-daughter, during the implementation of six search warrants issued for the two of them. She was reported to be in fear of her and her family’s life, and has asked for custody to be transferred to the NBI in Manila.
Also included in the search warrants were Reynaldo Parojinog Jr. and Board Member Ricardo Parojinog in relation to hard drugs, said a report by state-owned Philippine News Agency.
The PNA quoted Pacleg as saying the operatives were met with volley of fire, prompting them to return fire.
Three areas were apparently covered by the six warrants: the mayor’s house in Barangay San Roque in Lawis, the home of ex-board member and current city councilor Ardot (Ricardo) Parojinog, and the mayor’s farm in Barangay Cogon, according to InterAksyon sources.
“Bundles of cash and shabu” were found in the mayor’s house along with some guns, the sources added. In the raid on Ardot’s house, a shotgun, three rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launchers, rifles and rifle ammunition were allegedly found.
“Madilim po at medyo brownout pa po una…May putok po na sumalubong sa mga tropa natin [It was dark and there was a brownout; gunshots greeted our forces],” Senior Supt. de Guzman had said in an earlier radio interview.
An assortment of guns, including M-16s and .45 caliber pistols, were found along with grenades, de Guzman added. Drugs and money were also found, he said. The CIDG is still doing an inventory of firearms, ammunition and grenades.
President Duterte had once called out Mayor Parojinog in a speech, urging him to “surrender more guns” and tagging him as among those with links to certain drug groups.
The Parojinogs are a big, very popular political clan that have held sway in Ozamiz city for decades despite recurrent talk of their alleged links to illegal gambling and criminal gangs.
‘Mayor Espinosa, Part 2’?
The chief of Ozamiz City police, Chief Insp. Jovy Espenido, had just come back to his post from suspension after video showing him maltreating a detainee went viral.
Espenido was chief of Albuera (Leyte) municipal police force when Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. was killed in his cell in the Baybay sub-provincial cell in November 2016, sparking multiple investigations and claims of a rubout by the CIDG team, when Supt. Marvin Marcos was head of CIDG-Region 8 or Eastern Visayas.
Marcos’ recent reinstatement – after also serving a suspension – and recent deployment to the CIDG in Region 12 had sparked outrage in the Senate and among human rights groups, who noted that even Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre and the PNP’s Internal Affairs Service had once deemed the Espinosa killing as premeditated and not a shootout between Marcos’ people and Mayor Espinosa, who was gunned down with fellow inmate Raul Yap.
Reacting to photos of the dead Mayor Parojinog that spread on social media, the city legal officer, Atty. Jeffrey James Okang, said in an interview with DzBB, “It seems like Part 2 of Espinosa case.” He said they are bothered by why “even the mayor’s wife was killed.”
Okang said the mayor’s daughter Vice Mayor Nova Parojinog is asking authorities to move her to the NBI detention facility in Manila, on fears that she may be assassinated in Ozamiz City by people bent on wiping out key members of the clan.
Authorities are not saying for what VM Nova is being detained, but Okang said all they heard was for illegal possession of firearms and violation of the anti-drugs law.
The vice mayor believes the “bulto bulto” (big bundles) of drugs allegedly found in the house where she slept were planted, Okang said.
The fate of the mayor’s son, Reynaldo Jr., remains unclear, and Okang said they only know he is being kept in handcuffs, along with Vice Mayor Nova’s children, inside one of the houses.
Okang confirmed that the slain mayor had returned firearms to authorities last year, heeding a call by President Duterte.