Philippines raid kills mayor, 14 oth­ers

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL - In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Jim Gomez of The As­so­ci­ated Press and by Felipe Vil­lamor of The New York Times.

ZAM­BOANGA, Philippines — Po­lice in the south­ern Philippines said they fa­tally shot 15 peo­ple Sun­day, in­clud­ing a city mayor who was among the politi­cians Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte pub­licly linked to il­le­gal drugs, in the blood­i­est as­sault so far in Duterte’s anti-drug crack­down.

Of­fi­cers were to serve war­rants to Oza­miz Mayor Rey­naldo Paro­jinog Sr. to search his houses for the sus­pected pres­ence of un­li­censed firearms when gun­men opened fire on the po­lice, spark­ing clashes that killed the mayor and at least 14 other peo­ple, Oza­miz Po­lice Chief Jovie Espenido said.

“He’s a high-value tar­get on il­le­gal drugs,” Espenido, who over­saw the si­mul­ta­ne­ous, post-mid­night raids on the mayor’s res­i­dence and three other houses, said at a news con­fer­ence.

“We en­force the law to pro­tect the peo­ple who want peace in this coun­try,” he said. “How can we en­force the law if … we’re scared of the drug lords? That can­not be, they should be afraid of peo­ple who do good for all.”

At least five peo­ple, in­clud­ing Paro­jinog’s daugh­ter, who serves as vice mayor of Oza­miz, a port city, were ar­rested dur­ing the raids. Po­lice were ap­proach­ing the mayor’s house when his body­guards opened fire and hit a po­lice car and wounded a po­lice of­fi­cer, spark­ing a fire­fight amid a power out­age, Espenido said.

A gre­nade held by one of Paro­jinog’s body­guards ex­ploded dur­ing the clash in­side his house and it re­mains un­clear if he and his wife were killed by the blast or po­lice gun­fire or both, Espenido said, adding that as­sault ri­fles, grenades, sus­pected metham­phetamine and cash were seized in the raids.

“The ad­min­is­tra­tion vowed to in­ten­sify the drug cam­paign,” pres­i­den­tial spokesman Ernesto Abella said in con­nec­tion with Sun­day’s raids in Oza­miz. “The Paro­jinogs, if you would re­call, are in­cluded in [Duterte’s] list of per­son­al­i­ties in­volved in the il­le­gal drug trade.”

Paro­jinog, who also faced cor­rup­tion charges, had de­nied any links to il­le­gal drugs.

Vice Mayor Nova Echaves, Paro­jinog’s daugh­ter, was ar­rested and was to be flown to Manila for se­cu­rity rea­sons, re­gional po­lice Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Ti­mo­teo Pa­cleb said.

Paro­jinog and his daugh­ter were among more than 150 Philip­pine of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing may­ors, judges and po­lice of­fi­cers, who Duterte ac­cused of be­ing in­volved with il­le­gal nar­cotics in a tele­vised speech last Au­gust.

Paro­jinog was the third mayor to be killed un­der Duterte’s crack­down on drugs, which has left more than 3,000 dead in re­ported gun­fights with po­lice and thou­sands of other un­ex­plained deaths of sus­pects.

In Oc­to­ber, Sam­sudin Di­maukom, mayor of the small town of Datu Saudi-Am­pat­uan in the south­ern Philippines, was gunned down at a check­point by po­lice of­fi­cers, who said his guards had fired at them. In Novem­ber, an­other mayor, Rolando Espinosa Sr., was shot and killed by po­lice of­fi­cers in his jail cell.

The drug killings have been widely crit­i­cized by West­ern gov­ern­ments and hu­man rights groups that have called for an end to what they sus­pect were ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings re­lated to the anti-drug cam­paign.

Duterte has vowed to de­fend po­lice­men who would face crim­i­nal and hu­man rights charges while crack­ing down on il­le­gal drugs. He re­cently or­dered a po­lice of­fi­cer charged in con­nec­tion with Espinosa’s death to be re­in­stated af­ter briefly be­ing charged and sus­pended af­ter the jail killing.

The raids Sun­day came just days af­ter Duterte, in his an­nual speech to Congress, pledged to con­tinue his bloody crack­down on drugs

“I have re­solved that no mat­ter how long it takes, the fight against il­le­gal drugs will con­tinue be­cause it is the root cause of suf­fer­ing,” Duterte said, ask­ing the United Na­tions, the Euro­pean Union and other crit­ics to ed­u­cate peo­ple about drugs rather than con­demn him. He said that those in­volved in drug traf­fick­ing would face “ei­ther jail or hell.”

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