MAYOR, 11 OTH­ERS SLAIN IN OZ AMI Z DRUG R AIDS

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - STORY BY AL­LAN A. NAWAL, JIGGER J. JERUSALEM AND PHILIP C. TUBEZA

Mayor Rey­naldo Paro­jinog Sr., his wife, his son and nine oth­ers were killed when a po­lice team swooped down on three Paro­jinog houses in the wee hours of Sun­day morn­ing. Vice Mayor Nova Echaves, the mayor’s daugh­ter, was ar­rested.

Power went out at Barangay San Roque Lawis, a res­i­den­tial area in Oza­miz City, at 2:30 a.m. on Sun­day.

“We’re used to brownouts so we did not mind,” said one res­i­dent.

Mo­ments later, gun­fire erupted.

At day­break, res­i­dents saw the po­lice car­ry­ing out bod­ies from a com­pound owned by the fam­ily of Mayor Rey­naldo “Al­dong” Paro­jinog Sr.

“We saw Mayor Al­dong on a stretcher. He was blood­ied. He was dead,” the res­i­dent said.

At least 11 oth­ers were killed by po­lice serv­ing ar­rest war­rants on drug charges against the 60-year-old Paro­jinog, ac­cord­ing to Supt. Le­muel Gonda, North­ern Min­danao po­lice spokesper­son.

Eleven oth­ers, in­clud­ing the mayor’s daugh­ter, Vice Mayor Nova Echaves, 36, were ar­rested.

The slain mayor had ear­lier said Echaves and Her­bert Colangco were lovers.

Colangco is a con­vict at New Bili­bid Prison al­legedly run­ning a na­tional drug dis­tri­bu­tion syn­di­cate.

The po­lice have not re­leased the names of the oth­ers who were killed but the Catholi­cowned Ra­dio dxDD said among them were Paro­jinog’s wife, Su­san, 59; Misamis Oc­ci­den­tal Board Mem­ber Oc­tavio Paro­jinog Jr., 44; and civil­ian vol­un­teer mem­bers Miguel del Vic­to­ria, Nestor Ca­balan and Daniel Vasquez.

In­ten­si­fied drive vs drugs

Paro­jinog was the third town mayor killed in a po­lice op­er­a­tion un­der Pres­i­dent Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.

Sun­day’s raid in Oza­miz was part of an in­ten­si­fied gov­ern­ment cam­paign against il­le­gal drugs, ac­cord­ing to pres­i­den­tial spokesper­son Ernesto Abella.

“The Paro­jinogs, if you would re­call, were in­cluded on [Mr. Duterte’s] list of per­son­al­i­ties in­volved in the il­le­gal drug trade,” Abella said.

The Paro­jinogs re­peat­edly de­nied ac­cu­sa­tions that they were in­volved in the il­le­gal drug trade.

Chief Supt. Ti­mo­teo Pa­cleb, North­ern Min­danao po­lice chief, said the raids, backed by search war­rants, were con­ducted on sev­eral houses owned by Paro­jinog and his rel­a­tives.

He said the search war­rants were for banned drugs and il­le­gal firearms.

‘Met with gun­fire’

But Pa­cleb said that while the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice team, which in­cluded el­e­ments of the Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion and De­tec­tion Group (CIDG), was serv­ing the war­rant, they were met with gun­fire from in­side the houses.

“The serv­ing PNP per­son­nel were met with a vol­ley of fire from their (Paro­jinogs’) se­cu­rity, prompt­ing the PNP per­son­nel to re­tal­i­ate,” Pa­cleb said in a state­ment.

Ini­tial po­lice re­ports also said sev­eral firearms and sus­pected “shabu” (crys­tal meth) were seized from the houses owned by Mayor Paro­jinog and that of his daugh­ter.

Law en­forcers also raided Coun­cilor Ri­cardo Paro­jinog’s house at Barangay Ba­gakay, where the raid­ing team seized as­sorted firearms and am­mu­ni­tion in­clud­ing a shot­gun, three rocket-pro­pelled gre­nade launch­ers, M-79 ri­fles, two hand grenades and eight M-79 bul­lets.

Also taken were al­leged il­le­gal drugs and drug para­pher­na­lia.

Pa­cleb said the raids were con­ducted at dawn so as not to alert the tar­get.

In Au­gust last year, si­multa- neous raids by com­bined forces of the po­lice, the Philip­pine Army and nar­cotics agents were con­ducted on 13 of 16 houses owned by the Paro­jinogs.

The 13 in­di­vid­u­als whose houses were raided were not around when law en­forcers served the war­rants.

Also in Au­gust last year, the Paro­jinogs sur­ren­dered a hoard of 20 firearms to the po­lice.

Lac­son re­ac­tion

Sen. Pan­filo Lac­son said “at least” the Paro­jinogs were not killed while in gov­ern­ment cus­tody, un­like in the case of Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., who was gunned down by a CIDG team in­side his jail cell in the Bay­bay City sub­provin­cial jail in Leyte last Novem­ber.

Espinosa was un­der de­ten­tion on drug charges.

“What­ever the cir­cum­stances of the deaths, at least this time, the mayor and the oth­ers killed were not un­der de­ten­tion in a gov­ern­ment fa­cil­ity. They were re­port­edly in the mayor’s farm/res­i­dence and ca­pa­ble of shoot­ing it out with the au­thor­i­ties,” Lac­son said of Sun­day’s killing in Oza­miz.

Lac­son’s Se­nate com­mit­tee is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the killing of Espinosa, which the for­mer PNP chief has de­scribed as “pre­med­i­tated mur­der.”

OZA­MIZ AN­TIDRUG CAM­PAIGN This July 5, 2016, photo shows Oza­miz City Mayor Rey­naldo Paro­jinog Sr. spray­ing paint on the wall of a sus­pected drug den in Barangay San Roque. The mayor, how­ever, was on Pres­i­dent Duterte’s list of sus­pected drug lords.

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