DoJ may ask SC for transfer of Parojinog cases from Ozamis to Manila

MANILA-- The Department of Justice will ask the Supreme Court for the transfer of the cases filed against the Parajinog siblings if the judge of Ozamiz City regional trial court (RTC) inhibit from handling the cases.

Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, head of the DOJ panel handling the cases, said Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II could seek the transfer of cases before the Supreme Court as he did in the cases against arrested Maute terrorists and supporters.

"It will be up to the (DOJ) management to seek the transfer of cases if there are no takers among the Ozamiz RTC judges," he said.

The DoJ made a comment after Judges Edmundo Pintac of the Ozamiz RTC Branch 15 and Salome Dungog of the Ozamiz RTC Branch 35 both expressed plans to inhibit from the cases against the siblings filed by the Department of Justice last week.

"It should be heard and tried in a neutral place; not here in Ozamiz," Pintac said in a television interview.

Dungog, for his part, explained that he would inhibit from the case because he is already set to retire on Aug. 22.

The DoJ ordered the filing of criminal charges against Ozamiz City Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog-Echavez and her brother, Reynaldo Jr., in connection with the anti-drug operation which killed suspected narco-politician Mayor Parojinog and 13 others last July 30.

In a 14-page resolution dated Aug. 2, the DOJ charged Echavez with violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and also with illegal possession of firearms and ammunition under Section 28 of Republic Act 10591.

Her brother Reynaldo Jr. is also facing three counts of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. He is also facing a separate case for illegal possession of explosives before the Ozamiz regional trial court.

"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 to find probable cause against respondent Nova Princess Parojinog for illegal possession of light weapon and ammunition," read the resolution.

The drug charges, on the other hand, stemmed from the seizure of plastic sachets containing shabu 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 lack of licenses for the firearms seized from the vice mayor's house warranted their indictment for illegal possession of firearms.

Last Aug. 4, Aguirre issued an immigration lookout bulletin order (ILBO) against Ozamiz City Councilor Ricardo 'Arthur' Parojinog who managed to evade arrest following the raid that led to the death of 14 people including Ozamiz Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog last July 30.

In a memorandum, Aguirre directed Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente to instruct all immigration officers in the country's airports and seaports to be on the lookout to prevent attempts of Ricardo to leave the country.

"Considering the gravity of the offense/s possibly committed, there is a strong possibility that the foregoing personalities may attempt to place themselves beyond the reach of the legal processes of this Department by leaving the country," Aguirre's order said.

A person subject of an ILBO can still leave the country subject to conditions and requirements including clearance from the DOJ.

He also directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to obtain additional information on the seven personalities such as latest photo, other known aliases, place of birth and a copy of the passport.

The DoJ Chief also required the Prosecutor General to regularly update the BI on the status of complaints and cases filed against them.

Source: Philippine News Agency