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Narco politics gone bad in Ozamiz?

For many years, it was common knowledge that Ozamiz City was literally ruled by mobsters led by the so-called Kuratong Baleleng, which was run by the Parojinog gang who preyed upon the innocent and that government authorities could not do anything to stop their criminal activities.

I’m sure you folks in Manila do not fear the dreaded Kuratong Baleleng, but for us in Cebu, Ozamiz City is just short ferry ride away and Cebu City had a series of daylight robberies that the police believed was the work of the Kuratong Baleleng because it was easy enough to hit businesses in Cebu and return to the safety of Ozamiz City.

Then years later, it was no surprise for us when the Parojinog Gang shifted their tactics and entered into the world of politics and soon the Parojinog family was on top of the local government in Ozamiz City as their Mayor with other Parojinog holding various positions in local government, which also controlled the underworld! When Pres. Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte declared that his list of local mayors involved in illegal drugs, included the name of Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr. it was then that we realized that the Parojinog’s rule of Ozamiz City was due to Narco politics.

The big breaking news yesterday came from the report of Police Regional Office 10 director Chief Superintendent Timoteo Pacleb that Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr. and his wife and 12 others in his group were killed in a predawn drug raid on his residence last Sunday. The police was serving a total of six search warrants on the houses of Mayor Parojinog, Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog-Echavez, City Councilor Ricardo Parojinog, the farmhouses of Mayor Parojinog and Board Member Parojinog when they were fired upon from the mayor’s residence.

The gun battle lasted for two hours. Clearly the mayor was very well armed to fight a gun battle that would last that long. News reports show that the police recovered a shotgun, three rocket propelled-grenade launchers, two hand grenades and eight M79 ammunition from the house of Councilor Parojinog, including “a large amount of Shabu and other paraphernalia” were seized from the councilor’s house.

Of course, we expect the opposition to Pres. Duterte to question this raid, but lest you have already forgotten, Ozamiz City is in Mindanao, which is still under Martial Law. We shall be getting more details on this raid. But in my friends Facebook page, they already uploaded the gruesome photos of the slain Mayor Parojinog and his wife.

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We also saw on Facebook numerous photos of Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog-Echavez posing with different types of the ultra expensive “Hermes” bags that would shame former First Lady Imelda Marcos! If you didn’t know… a Hermes bag can cost as much as your car! So how can she afford such luxury on the salary of a Vice-Mayor from Ozamiz City?

Yesterday morning, all the radio commentators in Cebu were agog discussing the raid and the deaths of Mayor Parojinog and his family and I supposed the other casualties were his bodyguards. I was on my car hearing Radyo Bombo’s “Bombohanay Big-time” and the commentator reminded his listeners of the days of the Kuratong Baleleng and how difficult it would be to serve a search warrant to a family that ruled Ozamiz City.

In my search for more stories on the Kuratong Baleleng, I chanced upon a seven-year old report by Mike Frialde dated Aug.13, 2010 that came out of the Nation Page of the Philippine Star which was headlined, “Kuratong activities in Ozamiz verified.” Let me reprint a portion of that report.

“In a press conference in Quezon City on Wednesday, Misamis Occidental second district Rep. Loreto Leo Ocampos urged the PNP to take action on what he alleged was the still active operation of the Kuratong Baleleng group in Ozamiz City. Ocampos also alleged that aside from being a criminal group, the group is also now involved in partisan political activities. Ocampos tagged former Ozamiz City mayor Reynaldo “Aldong” Parojinog as the group’s alleged leader.

“The Kuratong Baleleng has been operating with impunity in Ozamiz City because it enjoyed political protection for many years from the former city mayor, Aldong Parojinog, the son of the founder of Kuratong Baleleng, Octavio Parojinog,” he said. That report added, “According to the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, the Kuratong Baleleng began as an anti-communist vigilante group created by the military but has become a diversified kidnapping, smuggling, and extortion syndicate with close links to officials in Northwestern Mindanao and elsewhere.”     

Of course we can expect calls for another investigation of the PNP officers involved in this raid. But for many of us in Cebu, there is no sympathy for the Kuratong Baleleng gang who entered the realm of Narco politics that could control an entire city and call it their own. That’s called Narco Politics!

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Email: vsbobita@moscom.com or vsbobita@gmail.com

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