MANILA, Philippines – Amid perceptions and allegations that the killings of the Parojinogs during an ungodly hour when there was power outage were premeditated just like what happened to Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa, police officials took their turns in defending the raid on the residences of Ozamis Mayor Reynaldo Parajinog Sr. and his family.
Ozamiz City Police Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido, who was the chief of police of Albuera, Leyte when Espinosa was killed on November 5 last year inside his detention cell in Baybay City, denied that the killings of the Parajinogs were extra-judicial.
He said that even before authorities could serve the warrants to the Parajinogs, the mayor and his men opened fire at the authorities, prompting the latter to retaliate.
Espenido added that a member of the mayor’s security team was holding a hand grenade that was supposed to be thrown at the authorities but policemen were able to shoot him before he was able to toss the explosive, which blew up on the Parajinogs and their men.
“Walang EJK dito. May pagkataon na nabaril kasi ‘yong nga lumaban pero di masabi na ‘yong pusher binaril [There is no EJK here. There are cases when they are shot because they fought back but we can’t compare it to the case of a pusher who was shot],” said Espenido.
Authorities recovered from the mayor’s house-caliber guns, explosives, and an ammunition for a grenade launcher. Also found in the residence were a kilo of shabu and P1.4 million in case. But the mayor’s daughter, Ozamiz Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parajinog claimed that the pieces of evidence against her family were planted.
Espenido explains 2:30 a.m. raid
Espenido also explained that the raid was carried out very early at 2:30 a.m. to ensure that the search warrants could be served as the residences of the Parajinogs, especially during daytime, were “shielded” by many of the family’s supporters.
“Kami ang implementor. May initiative ‘yang kung si Senator Drilon…kami rin mga pulis. Hindi puwede na gayahin sa kanya. Hindi puwedeng magaya ang interpretasyon niya. Tiningnan namin kung kailan mase-serve namin ‘yong search wala maraming tao, hindi naka prepared sila. Tinitingnan namin security ng mga implementor. Ang bahay ni mayor marami nagpunta marami nag-vigil, parang human shield ba,” he said.
[We are the implementor. Sen. Drilon has initiative and the police also have initiative. We can’t imitate his initiative. We can’t interpret the way he does. We were looking at the right time to serve the warrants when there wasn’t a lot of and they were not prepared. We were looking at the security of the implementors. There are many people who conduct vigil at the mayor’s house, they’re like human shields.]
Espenido issued the statement after Sen. Franklin Drilon questioned why the search warrants were served before dawn. He compared the incident to the November 5, 2016 killing of Rolando Espinosa, who, according to government investigators, was a victim of premeditated murder.
On Monday, Sen. Francis Pangilinan also doubted that the police’s raid on the Parajinog residences were legitimate.
“Serving warrants of arrest past 2 AM. Disabling the Close Circuit TV cameras prior to entering the premises. All 15 suspected drug lords at the scene of the crime and their ‘armed to the teeth’ bodyguards are killed. No injuries or casualties on the side of the PNP. Hindi makatotohanan. P’wedeng gawin ito kaninuman [This isn’t realistic. This could be done to anyone.]
More raids soon
Amid the defense of the early Sunday assault in the Misamis Occidental city that resulted in the death of the mayor, his wife Susan, his children Octavio and Mona, and 11 security men, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa said there would be more raids on the lairs of government officials being linked to the illegal drug trade.
“Marami pa. Marami pa kaya hintay-hintay lang kayo,” Dela Rosa told reporters at a press conference in Camp Crame Monday morning, adding that the raids on the hideouts of narco-politicians would be on a “nationwide scale.”
“To be fair with these people, this should serve as a warning to everyone na ang PNP ay walang sinasanto pag dating sa enforcement ng batas. As far as law enforcement is concerned, we have no fear or favor,” he added.
Meanwhile, Chief Superintendent Roel Obusan, director of the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group whose men were the ones who had launched the operation that killed Espinosa last year, said the fact that other members of the Parajinog family remained alive was proof that authorities had no intention to kill them in clod blood during the operations in Ozamiz last weekend.
“Kaya nga may nahuli tayo, kasi we are not meant to kill; yung mga lumalaban lang…It erases the doubt of the lawyer na they are meant to be liquidated kasi if that’s really our intention, napatay na sana lahat; si Madam Nova, wala na rin sana,” he said.
“We really intend to bring them to justice and for them to answer justice alive. Kaya lang ang nangyayari kung minsan, may laban kasi sila yung nag-maintain ng private army and we were fired upon before entering the premises,” added Obusan.
Espenido said he had repeatedly tried to convince Mayor Parajinog and his daughter Nova to surrender their arms and drugs to authorities.
“There are so many times na nag-try ako kay mayor. Mayor last na lang, magkaibigan tayo mayor pag isurrender mo lahat ‘yong sa inyo, baril, kay Nova, drugs.”
Dela Rosa said he wanted the Ozamis mayor alive “to answer the charges.” However, when he resisted arrest the PNP chief said he wanted “my men alive more than him.”
“Lagi kong sinasabi yan: After the smoke is clear, it should be the good man standing and the bad man lying on the pavement,” he said.