MANILA, Aug. 3 — The Department of Justice (DOJ) ordered the filing or criminal charges against Ozamiz City Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog-Echavez and her brother, Reynaldo Jr., in connection to the anti-drug operation which killed suspected narco-politician Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and 14 others last July 30.
In a 14-page resolution dated Aug. 2, the DOJ charged Echavez for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 specifically Section 11 for possession of dangerous drugs and also for violation of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition under Section 28 of Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act while her brother Reynaldo Jr. is facing three counts of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. He is also facing a separate case for illegal possession of explosives under RA 9516 and possession of dangerous drugs under RA 9165 before the Ozamiz regional trial court.
The DOJ explained that the lack of licenses for the firearms seized from the vice mayor’s house where the siblings were arrested warranted their indictment for illegal possession of firearms.
“Respondent Nova Princess Parojinog is not a licensed firearms holder of any kind of caliber based on (PNP firearms and licensing division records). There is, therefore, no recourse but rot find probable cause against respondent Nova Princess Parojinog for illegal possession of light weapon and ammunition,” read the resolution signed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro C. Navera and Assistant State Prosecutors Josie Christina T. Dugay and Ethel Rea G. Suril and Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Amor L. Robles. Robles recommended the approval of the resolution while Senior Deputy State Prosecutor and OIC Prosecutor General Severino H. Gaña Jr. approved the resolution.
The drug charges, on the other hand, stemmed from the plastic sachets containing shabu that were seized from the siblings during the raid.
The DOJ cited the plain view doctrine and indicted the siblings for drug possession even if the search warrant used for the raids was only for illegal firearms.
“The searching officers positively testified that they clearly saw in plain view the illegal drugs while they were searching for firearms which were both in the constructive custody of respondent Nova Princess Parojing. These is probable cause to separately charge respondent Nova Princess Parojinog for illegal possession of dangerous drugs,” it further explained.
The siblings were arrested in a simultaneous raids conducted by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG).
During the raid conducted at the house of Reynaldo Jr., authorities seized one 12 gauge shotgun Armscor with five pieces of live ammunition at the main gate of the property, inside the house, authorities seized one unit of Ingram Sub Machine Pistol loaded with 10 pieces of live ammunitions, one piece of hand grenade, one unit of Cal. .40 pistol Para Ordnance with one magazine loaded with five live ammunition.
Authorities also seized a sling bag containing suspected illegal drugs and paraphernalia, one large heat sealed plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance, five pieces medium sized heat sealed plastic sachet also containing white crystalline substance, one tic tac plastic box believed to be containing shabu. Also seized are tooters, rolled aluminum foil, scissors.
In a separate raid, confiscated at the house of the Vice Mayor include various sizes of heat sealed plastic sachets containing white crystalline substance, disposable lighters, aluminum foils, 500 pieces of PHP1,000 bills, 1,800 pieces of PHP500 bills, one sheet of paper containing different numerical entries inside a green bag found under her bedroom.
Authorities also seized one unit of M16 rifle Blackwater, one piece plastic magazine for M16 rifle, one piece fired cartridge case for M16 rife and 13 pieces live ammunition for M16 rifle.
The PNP-Crime Laboratory confirmed that the white crystalline substance contains methamphetamine hydrochloride.
The DOJ noted that the search warrant for Echavez was for firearms and ammunitions only but the police was not stopped or prohibited from seizing other unlawful items found in the course of the search.
The raiding police testified that the illegal drugs were found in plain view while searching for the firearms.
The DOJ made this finding after conducting inquest proceedings last Tuesday inside the Philippine National Police custodial center in Camp Crime where the two have been detained since their arrest.
The siblings opted not to answer the charges in preliminary investigation and instead sought the immediate dismissal of the complaint due to legal flaws the operation conducted by police.
Counsels for the respondents Attys. Ferdinand Topacio and Mark Darwin Camara questioned the delay in the conduct of an inquest proceeding for being beyond the required 36 hours.
Authorities said the delay was excusable because they still have to bring the siblings from Ozamiz to Manila for security reasons. The PNP-CIDG added that the search warrant was also implemented on a Sunday plus the distance and the mode of transport in bringing the siblings to Manila should also be considered.
“After considering the arguments of both parties, we ruled that the delay in bringing the respondents for inquest proceedings was excusable because of the factually unique circumstances,” the DOJ noted.
Earlier, the suspects were transported to PNP headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City Monday for questioning and other procedures.
The elder Parajinog was killed along with his wife Susan, and 13 others during an alleged encounter inside the family’s residence in San Roque Lawis early Sunday morning.
Police said about PHP1.4 million in cash, half a kilo of suspected shabu and firearms were recovered from the vice mayor’s home.
The late mayor was tagged in Kuratong Baleleng-led crimes, smuggling and drug trafficking, was killed during the raid after his security personnel opened fire on the police operatives who were about to effect the search warrants for the alleged presence of illegal drugs and unlicensed firearms in their house in San Roque Lawis, Ozamiz City.
The former was earlier pinpointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as one of the country’s drug-lords and narco-politicians.
PNP Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa said more narco-politicians will be tracked down and neutralized by the police.
The PNP chief also clarified that the operation against Parojinog is a legitimate one and stressed that the latter was not targeted for liquidation along with his 14 cohorts.
Dela Rosa stressed that he wanted the mayor alive but the latter’s group tried to put a fight, forcing PNP operatives to fire back.
He also warned individuals or groups cornered by police not to resist so that the situation will not turn bloody.