Philippines mayor among 15 killed in drug raids

MONDAY JULY 24 2017 FILE

A mayor, tagged as one of the major "narco-politicians" in Mindanao, his wife and brother as well as 10 members of their security group were killed in a shoot-out during a police pre-dawn raid on Sunday on their sprawling family compound in Misamis Oriental province.

Speaking to Agence France-Presse, Superintendent Lemuel Gonda said: "Police were serving a search warrant when the security guards of the mayor fired at them, so our policemen retaliated".

Firearms and methamphetamines were recovered from the houses, media reports said. Mayor of the Philippines' Ozamiz city Reynaldo Parojinog was shot dead in a police raid on July 30 for illegal drug trade.

Parojinog, who was facing corruption charges, denied any link to the drugs trade after his family was named by Mr Duterte in a list of local government officials he ordered to be targeted. Policemen were approaching the mayor's house when his bodyguards opened fire and hit a police vehicle and wounded an officer, sparking a firefight amid a power outage, he said.

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In his second annual state-of-the-nation address before the joint session of Congress on July 24, Duterte vowed that despite criticism from here and overseas, the government would continue its "unrelenting" and "unremitting" war on drugs.

The vice mayor Nova Parojinog and her brother Reynaldo Jr were arrested.

In previous interviews, the younger Parojinog said the suspected illegal drugs, firearms and other items found in their homes were all "planted".

Duterte has promised an unrelenting war on drugs, defying critics who were "trivializing" his campaign with human rights concerns and unjustly blaming the authorities for the bloodshed.

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In 2016, two other mayors were killed: Samsudin Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao, in October, and Rolando Espinosa Sr of Albuera, Leyte, in November.

Two councilors of Ozamiz City on Monday will temporarily assume the posts of mayor and vice mayor following the death and arrest of their city's officials.

Commenting on Sunday's raid, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said: "The administration vowed to intensify the drug campaign".

According to human rights groups, Philippine security forces and "unidentified gunmen" have killed nearly 8,000 Filipino drugs suspects, the largest number of civilian deaths in South-east Asia since the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia in the 1970s.

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McConnell put the health bill on hold and announced that the Senate would move onto other legislation next week. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, majority leader, urged fellow senators not to let this moment slip by.

Fisherman in the Philippines have said they have been dumping bodies of drug suspects on the orders of police, who human rights groups accuse of carrying out thousands of extra-judicial killings.

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