PNP building more cases vs big-time drug lords
The Philippine National Police chief on Monday warned that law enforcers would be running after more drug lords after 15 people, including the mayor of Ozamiz City, were killed by police in a warrant raid early on Sunday.
Director General Ronald dela Rosa told an early-morning news conference that police were building cases against more illegal drug operators nationwide and would enforce the law without fear or favor.
The PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group has filed drug trafficking charges against Peter Lim, a wedding cosponsor of President Rodrigo Duterte, in the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The DOJ reported the filing of charges against Lim and seven others, including alleged drug kingpin Kerwin Espinosa, on Monday but did not provide details, not even to say when the charges were filed.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has ordered an immigration lookout for Lim and the others to prevent them from fleeing the Philippines.
But Lim’s lawyer, Pedro Leslie Salva, said that an immigration lookout was not a travel ban.
“Only the court can prohibit a person from traveling abroad,” Salva said.
Besides Lim and Espinosa, also facing drug trafficking charges in the DOJ are convicted drug lord Peter Co, Lovely Adam Impal, Jun Pepito, Rupel Malindangan, Max Miro and Marcelo Adorco.
Co is detained in New Bilibid Prison, while Espinosa is under government witness protection for testifying against Sen. Leila de Lima.
Espinosa is the son of Mayor Reynaldo Espinosa Sr. of Albuera, Leyte province, a drug suspect who was shot dead by police in a warrant raid on his jail cell on Nov. 5 last year.
Lim and Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr. were among the people publicly linked to the illegal drug trade by President Duterte last year.
Parojinog, 60, his wife, brother and 12 others were killed by police in a warrant raid in San Roque Lawis village, Ozamiz City, early on Sunday.
Officers raided several houses belonging to the Parajinog family to enforce search warrants for illegal drugs and firearms when gunmen allegedly opened fire on them, sparking clashes that killed the mayor, according to Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido, the Ozamiz police chief.
Espenido described the mayor as a “high-value target on illegal drugs.”
Eleven people, including Parojinog’s daughter, Ozamiz Vice Mayor Nova Echaves, 36, were arrested.
Dela Rosa said he and President Duterte had yet to talk about the bloodbath in Ozamiz.
Many more targets
He said law enforcers would conduct many such operations against the drug lords and narcopoliticians who appeared on Mr. Duterte’s list.
“We are now conducting a case buildup against them, and when there is a case already, we will operate,” he said.
He said those who were erroneously listed had nothing to fear, as investigation would eventually show whether they were involved in the drug trade.
“But if we are able to validate that their involvement in illegal drugs is continuing, then they have to prepare themselves. As I said, the PNP operates without fear or favor,” he said. —WITH REPORTS FROM ADOR VINCENT S. MAYOL AND AP
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