In Philippines, Doubts About Police Raid That Killed a Mayor

MANILA — Critics of the Philippine government are raising doubts about a weekend police operation that left 15 people dead, including a mayor accused of drug trafficking by President Rodrigo Duterte, suggesting that the bloodshed was a summary execution disguised as legitimate law enforcement.

But the police have shrugged off such criticism, saying they will continue to pursue scores of other officials Mr. Duterte has publicly identified as “narco politicians.”

Reynaldo Parojinog, the mayor of the city of Ozamiz in the southern Philippines, was killed at his home early Sunday along with his wife and five other people. The police said that Mr. Parojinog’s guards opened fire on them as they tried to enforce a search warrant, and that the seven people were killed in the ensuing firefight.

A raid at another house owned by the Parojinog family left eight others dead, according to an updated report from the police, who originally said five people had been killed there. Several people were arrested, including the mayor’s daughter, Nova Princess Parojinog-Echavez, the deputy mayor of Ozamiz, who was brought to Manila under heavy guard. She was charged with drug possession and illegal possession of firearms.

Senator Antonio Trillanes, a critic of Mr. Duterte’s crackdown on drugs, which has left thousands dead at the hands of the police or vigilantes, on Tuesday described the killings as a “rub-out.”

“It is yet another proof of how Duterte’s policy flouts human rights, due process and the rule of law and further reinforces the cases of crimes against humanity filed against him,” said Mr. Trillanes, who was involved in filing a complaint with the International Criminal Court in The Hague accusing Mr. Duterte of masterminding extrajudicial killings.

“As Duterte and his police chief have forewarned, more people will die in pursuit of their drug war,” Mr. Trillanes said.

Mr. Parojinog and his daughter were among roughly 150 Philippine officials, including mayors, judges and police officers, whom Mr. Duterte accused last year of being involved in illegal narcotics, reading their names from a list on live television.

The president encouraged officials on the list to report to the national police headquarters in Manila to clear their names if they considered themselves innocent. Mr. Parojinog and his daughter did so, telling reporters at the time that their political enemies may have generated the accusations against them. The mayor said his family had actively fought crime in Ozamiz, including drug trafficking.

But the family has never denied having links to the Kuratong Baleleng organization, which began as an armed militia unit formed by the military in the late 1980s to help combat communist guerrillas, and later evolved into a criminal organization. It has been dominant in Ozamiz politics for years.

As of Tuesday, Mr. Duterte had not commented on the raids Sunday. But officials in his government have distanced him from the operation, saying it was carried out independently by the police.

Photo

Rolando Espinosa Sr., left, with the national police chief, Gen. Ronald dela Rosa, after turning himself in to the authorities last year. Mr. Espinosa was later killed inside his jail cell, which the police said they had raided on suspicion that he was continuing to direct drug operations from there. Credit Mark R. Cristino/European Pressphoto Agency

On Monday, Gen. Ronald dela Rosa, the chief of the Philippine National Police, appeared undaunted by questions that were beginning to emerge about the killings, saying that the police would aggressively pursue other officials on Mr. Duterte’s list. “We have begun a case buildup against them,” he said in brief remarks to reporters. “Once there is a case already, we will operate.”

It is not clear how Mr. Duterte’s list was compiled; officials in his government have said that the president has his own sources. General dela Rosa said Monday that if officials were put on the list in error, they had nothing to fear, but that if they were confirmed to be involved in drugs, “then they can prepare themselves.”

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) talks to Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald Dela Rosa. AFP photo

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One Response to “In Philippines, Doubts About Police Raid That Killed a Mayor”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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