OZAMIZ CITY—The circumstances of the predawn police raids in this city last Sunday, which led to the deaths of 15 people including Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog raised more questions than answers.
In one television interview, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero said Ozamiz police should clarify why it served search warrants before dawn.
He nevertheless said it was still too early to assume that Ozamiz police abused their power in the incident.
A statement credited to Misamis Occidental PPO Chief Sr/Supt. Jaysen de Guzman earlier said that the police officers were met by a volley of gunfire as they were about to enter the Parojinogs' compound at around 2:30 in the morning.
City police Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido has also said that they conducted the raid at that early hour to minimize the risk of children or bystanders being used as human shields.
Espenido added they were only serving joint implementation of search warrants on properties of the mayor, his daughter Vice Mayor Nova Parojinog, his son Reynaldo Parojinog Jr., and four more relatives and supporters for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition when the mayor's security and supporters guarding his residence fired upon the cops.
Also yesterday, Liberal Party President Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan questioned the timing the warrants served and the disabling of CCTV cameras prior to the incident, referring to information quoting Espenido who said the CCTVs were "paralyzed" for the safety of their agents who accompanied the operations.
Espenido has said they were afraid someone will go after them if they are seen in the photos. That is for security reasons and that they needed to paralyze the CCTV and they did not manipulate the CCTV by deleting files.
This issue came after the arrested Vice Mayor Nova Princess Echavez said the police took with them her computer’s hard disk containing the files of footage of a CCTV installed inside and outside her house.
Echavez also accused the police raiders of planting the evidences supposedly recovered from the house.
Meanwhile, PNP Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa has maintained the simultaneous operations by authorities that killed Mayor Parojinog and 14 others were legitimate, adding they would have lived if they did not resist search.
The police general added they wanted Mayor Parojinog alive to answer the allegations against him, but not at the expense of the lives of police officers.
This came with the same explanation of Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Director Roel Obusan said they followed protocol for police operations.
The authorities denied allegations the police operations were meant to wipe out the Parojinog family and their supporters.
Fifteen people including Mayor Parojinog died in a shootout during police operations here last Sunday dawn. Killed along with the mayor is his wife Susan, siblings Mona and Octavio, and 11 security personnel and supporters.
On Monday morning, Echavez and brother Reynaldo Jr. were flown to Manila for inquest before the Quezon City court that issued the warrants.
The Parojinogs were among those named by President Rodrigo Duterte as the personalities allegedly linked to illegal drugs trade. (MICHAEL MEDINA)