EVEN in death, the late Ozamiz City mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr. continues to stir controversy. Not only has he been linked to illegal drugs but to terrorist activities as well, allegedly using money from the sale of illegal substances to fund Islamist extremist groups like Maute, Armed Forces Chief Eduardo Año said on Friday.
Quoting “confidential” military reports gathered from the ground, Año told reporters Parojinog was allegedly involved in the crisis in Marawi City.
It was the same information President Rodrigo Duterte presented to troops in the war-torn city in his fifth visit on Thursday.
“When we tried to dig up everything [about Parojinog’s involvement], and every information about this – how the Maute got this enormous money in doing this rebellion – part of that fund came from drugs so we made the study and we analyzed and evaluated it and that was the result of our report,” Año told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.
On June 6, Marines in Marawi City recovered P79 million in bundled cash and checks in a house in Barangay Saduc previously used by the Maute as a hideout and storage area.
Año said it was also possible that the recovered banknotes and checks in June were drug money coming from the Maute’s alleged politician backers, particularly from Parojinog.
“It is also possible that it came from what they looted from banks and private residences in Marawi City,” he said.
Año compared the drug cartel of the Maute brothers inside Marawi City with “Narcos,” an American crime drama web television series about Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar.
The AFP chief came up with the comparison since the Maute brothers were engaged in a “cartel-style” drug operation in the provinces of Lanao and Misamis.
Aside from Parojinog, Año said former Talitay, Maguindanao Mayor Montasir Sabal was also included in the President’s drug matrix.
“Parojinog was the only one mentioned by the President and it would be hard if we would accuse [other politicians], but Mayor Sabal, who is included in the list, has now gone into hiding,” the military chief said.
Sabal was dismissed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales in August for allegedly misdeclaring his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) in 2011, 2013 and 2014.
Parojinog, his wife Susan, and Misamis Occidental Board Member Octavio Parojinog Jr. were among those killed during a police drug raid in their residence in San Roque Lawis, Ozamiz City on July 29.
Raping female hostages
Año also said that there were reports coming from the debriefing of surrenderees and captured Maute members, that female hostages were being raped.
“Sad to say, we received reports from the debriefing that there are female hostages being raped by the Maute,” he said.
‘Dansalan, Ranao areas not yet safe’
Even if President Duterte traveled by land from Iligan to Marawi City in his fifth visit, Año said it was still not safe for residents to travel on routes going to Dansalan and Ranao areas in the besieged city.
“The last two days, we got casualties of sniping although [the troops]were only wounded and were far from the MBA (main battle area),” the AFP chief noted.
He reminded the residents that the military would be giving the green light once the areas were “completely cleared” of Maute presence and even of booby traps planted by the terrorists.
Año also clarified that the President did not travel across the main battle zone and noted that routes going to Mindanao State University and the Capitol were safe.
During the visit, Año said Duterte congratulated the troops for retaking key structures, the occupation of vital installations in Marawi City and the rescue of Catholic priest Father Teresito “Chito” Soganub.
Soganub was retrieved by troops in Bato Ali Mosque, the second grand Islamic mosque in Marawi City.
“He (Duterte) is asking for patience and he said that he does not want to have any kind of celebration once the crisis in Marawi has ended. So, we will just leave quietly but ensure security will continue so the rehabilitation and reconstruction will be conducted without being threatened by other enemies or lawless elements,” the AFP chief said.