Ozamiz mayor, 14 others killed in drug raid

(UPDATED) -- Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo "Aldong" Parojinog, his wife Susan and 13 others were confirmed killed in simultaneous drug raids before dawn Sunday, July 30, 2017.

The mayor's brother, Misamis Occidental Board Member Octavio Parojinog Jr., was also killed during the raid while his daughter, Ozamiz City Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog-Echavez, was arrested.

Superintendent Jaysen de Guzman, Misamis Occidental provincial police chief, said in a telephone interview that operatives from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG)-Northern Mindanao simultaneously swooped down on the homes of the mayor, his daughter Nova, his son Reynaldo Jr. and his brother City Councilor Ricardo Parojinog at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday.

Authorities also raided two farms owned by the Parojinog family.

De Guzman said they were armed with six search warrants for firearms, corresponding to the six places that were raided. Several guns, packs of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu" and cash amounting to more than P1 million were reportedly recovered.

The Ozamiz mayor has been linked to the notorious Kuratong Baleleng robbery group, which was allegedly founded by his father Octavio Sr. The mayor was also among the narco-politicians named by President Rodrigo Duterte last year. He and his daughter faced graft charges, although the Sandiganbayan had dismissed the charges.

As of 6 p.m., Ozamiz City Police Director Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido said the death toll has increased to 15.

"May security na nakatakbo 100 meters away tapos tinago ng may-ari ng bahay. Right after lunch, pumunta sa amin (ang may-ari ng bahay) tapos in-inform (kami) na may namatay (A neighbor hid one of the security personnel. Right after lunch, we were informed that the security personnel died)," he said in a press conference. Espenido was the police chief of Albuera, Leyte when the then town mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. was shot dead by CIDG personnel inside his detention cell in the Baybay City jail.

De Guzman, in the telephone interview earlier, said the raiding team at the mayor's house in San Roque Lawis was met with volleys of fire from unidentified armed men believed to be the mayor's security personnel, prompting the authorities to return fire.

"Sinalubong sila ng putok (They were met with gunshots)," De Guzman said.

Councilor Ricardo was not at home when authorities raided his residence.

"Hindi pa siya matatawag na at large since hindi naman arrest warrant 'yon, search warrant lang (He's not considered at large since he is the subject of a search warrant, not an arrest warrant)," De Guzman said.

De Guzman confirmed that Mayor Parojinog, his wife Susan, and his brother Octavio were among the fatalities.

The vice mayor is detained at the Ozamiz Police Station and will likely be charged with illegal possession of firearms and drugs.

A policeman was injured when a bullet ricocheted and grazed the operative's head. De Guzman said the policeman was brought to the hospital, but was discharged after treatment.

In a statement, Police Regional Office (PRO)-Northern Mindanao Director Chief Superintendent Timoteo Pacleb confirmed the death of Parojinog and the arrest of his vice mayor-daughter.

According to Pacleb, the operatives were met with volleys of fire, prompting them to return fire.

As of 1:30 p.m., Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco) personnel were still conducting an inventory of illegal items allegedly found in the Parojinog residence in San Roque Lawis and farm in Cogon.

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

He was the third mayor to be killed under President Rodrigo Duterte's bloody crackdown on drugs, which has left more than 3,000 dead in reported gunfights with police and has been widely criticized by western governments and human rights groups.

All three mayors were among more than 160 officials Duterte named publicly as being linked to illegal drugs in August last year as part of a shame campaign.

Ozamiz City is a city in Misamis Occidental province in Mindanao, which is currently under martial rule.

President Duterte declared martial law and suspended the privilege of writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao on May 23, shortly after fighting erupted between government forces and Maute terrorists in Marawi City.

Congress has extended martial law in Mindanao until the end of this year. (Pia Noreen Bilar/SunStar Philippines/With Alwen Saliring/SunStar Cagayan de Oro/With PNA/AP)

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