MANILA, Philippines — Ozamiz City Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog-Echavez and her brother, Reynaldo Jr., will undergo inquest proceedings in Camp Crame Tuesday, Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon said.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights has asked the Philippine National Police to preserve all evidence from Sunday’s deadly raids that left 15 persons, including Ozamiz Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog, his wife Susan, brother MIsamis Occidental board member Octavio Jr., and sister Mona, dead.
In Ozamiz, grieving residents have been flocking to the wake of the slain Parojinogs at the basketball court of Barangay San Roque.
Authorities said the fatalities were killed when they shot it out with personnel of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Region 10, Misamis Occidental provincial police and Ozamiz police who were out to serve search warrants on the Parojinogs during a power outage early Sunday morning.
The mayor’s children, Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog and Reynaldo Jr., were arrested during the simultaneous raids.
Parojinog, who with his daughter had been publicly accused of involvement in the drug trade by President Rodrigo Duterte, is the third mayor in the so-called “narco-list” killed in what police maintain were shootouts during legitimate operations.
The first was Samsudin Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao who was killed with nine companions at a checkpoint in Cotabato province. Just over a week later, Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. was killed in his cell at the Baybay City Sub-provincial Jail when he supposedly shot it out with officers of the CIDG in Region 8.
Although initial probes indicated Espinosa was murdered, Duterte vowed they would not be jailed. Subsequently, the Department of Justice downgraded the charges to homicide and the policemen involved are out on bail and returned to active duty, including their commander, Superintendent Marvin Marcos.
Fadullon said the Parojinog siblings were supposed to be brought to the DOJ Monday afternoon to undergo inquest for drug and illegal firearms charges but the CIDG requested the proceedings be moved to 1 p.m. Tuesday at PNP headquarters.
The vice mayor’s lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, said he would demand her release because police failed to file charges against her within 36 hours of her arrest, as required by law.
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“Ayon sa batas, dapat i-charge mo (Under the law, you have to file charges) within 36 hours otherwise she should be set free, so we will demand that,” Topacio told reporters. Otherwise, he added, they might file charges against the police.
Basing his computation on reports that the vice mayor was arrested at 6 a.m. Sunday, Topacio said the 36 hours within which charges should have been filed lapsed 6 p.m. Monday.
Meanwhile, CHR spokesperson Jackie de Guia urged police “to preserve the evidence very carefully” — particularly any closed circuit television footage — as the agency’s Region 10 office began investigating the Ozamiz raids.
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Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido, the Ozamiz police chief, confirmed they had disabled the CCTVs at the raided houses and properties, supposedly to prevent the identification of police informants.
“Police (are) saying they have reasonable ground to use deadly force, we would wish evidence to (be) preserved,” De Guia said.
Ozamiz residents, including city employees, flocked to the wake for the Parojinogs, many of them emotional.
A neighbor of the mayor likened the gunfire and explosions during the raid to “New Year’s eve.”
At city hall, the flag flew at half-mast as local government workers grieved.
Uncertainty remains over who will take over the helm of the city as the number one councilor, the mayor’s son Ricardo, who was also a target of the raids, has apparently gone into hiding.
At police headquarters, kin of raid survivors who were arrested kept vigil, expecting their release with no charges filed against them.