JUSTICE SECRETARY Vitaliano N. Aguirre II has asked Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno to transfer the case of the Parojinog siblings to a trial court in the National Capital Region (NCR), citing possible security threats and minimizing trial costs.
In a three-page letter, Mr. Aguirre “implores” the Supreme Court (SC) to transfer the case of Ozamiz City Vice-Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog-Echavez and her brother Reynaldo Parojinog, Jr. from the Ozamiz City Regional Trial Court to an NCR court, “preferably the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City.”
“Transferring the venue of the trial to the National Capital Judicial Region will obviate the need for security personnel to be assigned to the witnesses and more [Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP)] security escorts for the accused, thereby reducing costs of trial” Mr. Aguirre said.
“In addition, not only are the judges in Ozamiz City hesitant to try the cases in their sala, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Ozamiz City has likewise expressed concern and fear of threats in the event that they will be tasked to prosecute the cases in Ozamiz City,” Mr. Aguirre added.
“I would like to stress that notwithstanding the death of Mayor Parojinog, their clout should not be underestimated. The fact that they have been in power in Ozamiz City for so long is a clear indication that they have the capacity to influence, if not threaten the prosecution witnesses, the judges and the prosecutors and subvert the criminal proceedings in their favor,” Mr. Aguirre stressed.
A copy of the letter dated Aug. 17 was shared by Justice Undersecretary Erickson H. Balmes yesterday.
The Department of Justice (DoJ), in a resolution dated Aug. 2, indicted the siblings on illegal possession of firearms and dangerous drugs.
Ms. Parojinog-Echavez was charged with illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, and possession of dangerous drugs. Her brother, Mr. Parojinog, was charged with three counts of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, and one count each on illegal possession of explosives and of dangerous drugs. The two accused are currently detained at the National Police headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
They were arrested early Sunday morning following a raid at their home on the morning of July 30 that left 15 people dead, including their parents. On Aug. 1 ,they underwent inquest proceedings at the Custodial Center in Camp Crame.
Family patriarch and mayor of Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental Reynaldo O. Parojinog, Sr. was earlier identified by President Rodrigo R. Duterte as a narco-politician.
The older Mr. Parojinog was killed in the said raid by members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) led by Ozamiz City Police Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido. — Kristine Joy V. Patag
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