MANILA- Opposition Senators Leila de Lima and Risa Hontiveros have sought an investigation into bloody police raids in Ozamiz City that left 16 people dead, including the mayor Sunday.
De Lima on Tuesday filed a resolution asking the appropriate Senate committee to investigate "suspicious" circumstances surrounding the raids.
A former Justice Secretary, De Lima said the raids, which led to the death of Ozamiz Mayor Reynaldo "Aldong" Parojinog and 15 others, bears a "striking similarity" with the serving of a search warrant on Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., who was killed inside a detention cell in a pre-dawn police operation Leyte last November.
"A search warrant is not a warrant to kill, or a death sentence, and the suspicious pattern of how search warrants are being implemented by the PNP (Philippine National Police), especially by Chief Inspector Espenido... create the impression that search warrants are merely being used by the PNP to facilitate extra-judicial killings of mere suspects in accordance with the 'nanlaban' ('fought back') narrative..." she said in the resolution.
The series of raids in the houses of the Parojinogs in San Roque Lawis, Ozamiz City early Sunday yielded suspected shabu and several firearms and explosives, among them M-16 rifles and hand grenades, police said.
The mayor's children, Ozamiz City Vice Mayor Nova Parojinog and Reynaldo Parojinog Jr., were arrested following the raids and were charged for alleged violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.
Hontiveros meanwhile called for a "fair and independent" probe on the incident.
She said if the accusations against police of an unnamed witness who claimed to have escaped the raid are true, then the police operation would be similar to Espinosa's case.
"If these prove true, then what happened in Ozamis was not a legitimate police operation but a state-sanctioned massacre. It would carry the elements and blueprint of the extrajudicial killing of Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.," she said in a statement.
A witness who refused to be named earlier claimed that a grenade was thrown in the house of the Parojinogs during the raid and that after the explosion, police entered the house anew and shot the mayor and his brother, Octavio.
Even if the Parojinogs are proven to be involved in the illegal drug trade, Hontiveros said government should still uphold the rule of law.
"The government is the protector of the law and of its people. It is not a syndicate or a mafia. The campaign of the government against society’s criminals must not itself become a crime," she said.
Police had said they met violent resistance as they served warrants to search for firearms in the Parojinogs' properties in Ozamiz during the raid.