Lawyers of the Parojinog siblings who survived Sunday’s dawn raids in Ozamiz City that killed 15 people including their father, Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog, are poised to file arbitrary detention charges against the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
Ferdinand Topacio, lawyer of Ozamiz Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog and her brother, Reynaldo Jr., said the two should be freed as the 36-hour deadline under the Revised Penal Code to file charges against them lapsed prior to inquest proceedings.
Topacio pointed out that the inquest on Tuesday, set by prosecutors for 1 p.m., was delayed because the CIDG, which initiated the raids, came in two hours late. The CIDG men came in at past 2 p.m.
Topacio, however, said this should not affect authorities’ plan to file cases against the Parojinogs for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
“We will be studying all angles here. But for now, we were just given the search warrant but with one missing page and we also saw the statements by the arresting officers and other supporting documents in connection with the search of the Parojinog compound,” he told reporters.
Sunday’s raid by the Misamis Occidental Provincial Police Office, Ozamiz City Police Station and CIDG Northern Mindanao led to the killing of Parojinog Sr., his wife Susan and brother Octavio Parojinog Jr.
Police seized firearms, shabu and explosive devices from the houses of the Parojinogs.
Topacio said no charges have yet been filed against the Parojinogs.
“After the inquest, there will be a resolution from the panel whether or not there was probable cause, and if there’s probable cause, an information will be filed before an appropriate court and that court will issue a commitment order since respondents are already under custody,” he explained.
‘Protect Parojinog siblings’
Anti-crime advocates on Tuesday expressed concern over the safety of the surviving siblings despite earlier assurances by PNP chief Ronald de la Rosa that they would be safe inside the police headquarters in Camp Crame.
Dante Jimenez, founding chairman of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), said the Parojinog siblings should not suffer a similar fate as that of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., who was killed by police officers inside his jail cell in Baybay, Leyte last year.
“The PNP chief made the same assurance to former mayor Espinosa, but we all know what happened to him.
There was already a precedent so we are appealing to the chief PNP to secure them,” Jimenez said.
The VACC chairman issued the appeal after receiving a letter from the vice mayor asking the organization to assist in the investigation of the simultaneous raids in Ozamiz City early Sunday.
In a letter to Jimenez on July 31, Parojinog’s daughter Nova Princess insisted that the raids were illegal.
The vice mayor claimed the authorities planted evidence to frame her for crimes she did not commit.
“On behalf of my family, we humbly implore your assistance in this very difficult time in order to let justice be given its day,” she said.
Jimenez said the VACC will wait for the results of the investigation being conducted by the authorities, before responding to the request of the vice mayor.
The group, however, will request the National Bureau of Investigation to launch an independent investigation into how the raids were conducted.
“We will not tolerate reckless and irresponsible acts. There could be violation of the rules of engagement,” Jimenez said.
CHR steps in
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has also started its own investigation into the Ozamiz raids.
CHR spokeswoman Jacqueline de Guia told The Manila Times: “human rights should always be upheld and the rule of law… hence, an exhaustive investigation has to be made.”
As part of the probe, CHR has asked the PNP to preserve all evidence from Sunday’s deadly raids, including video from security cameras.
However, Ozamiz police chief Jovie Espenido said the raiding team disabled the security cameras to conceal the identity of police informants.
Espenido also said the mayor had sent surrender feelers but did not follow through.
He said the search warrants were served at 2:30 a.m. because there were fewer people at that time.
“There were children and women inside their house because the food was free. It looked like they were there as human shields if something happened. And we observed that at 2:30 a.m. there were fewer people. So if we carried out the raid that time, there would be fewer casualties,” he explained.
Espenido maintained that the mayor’s security men were the first to open fire, forcing the policemen to retaliate.
with JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA AND GLEE JALEA