Manila, Sep 4 (efe-epa).- Former councilman of Ozamiz, Ricardo “Ardot” Parojinog, a member of a powerful political clan in the Southern Philippines who was disgraced after being linked to drug trafficking, appeared dead Friday in the cell in which he was imprisoned awaiting trial.
“Parojinog was found dead at 6:00 am today while alone inside the detention cell of Ozamiz Police Station. No violence was noted,” Philippine National Police Chief Camilo Cascolan said in a brief statement.
Cascolan ordered an investigation into the death and placed all-night shift personnel in protective custody for questioning.
Ardot, detained since July 2018, had scheduled a hearing today in the court of Ozamiz, a city on the troubled island of Mindanao governed by his family until 2017, when he began his persecution in middle of the campaign of the war on drugs launched by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Ardot is the brother of Reynaldo Parojinog Sr., who was the mayor of Ozamiz when he was killed in July 2017 in an anti-drug raid along with 15 other people -among them another brother and Reynaldo’s wife- when the police were reviewing the clan properties.
The operation also led to the arrest of the mayor’s sons, Reynaldo Parojinog Jr., already sentenced to life imprisonment for drug possession, and Nova Parojinog – who was deputy mayor of Ozamiz – who faces charges for illegal possession of firearms and drugs.
Ardot was not at the family home at the time of the raid and fled the country, for which Duterte imposed a reward of 5 million pesos ($ 103,000) for his capture. His name – along with his deceased brothers and his nephews – was included in the list of politicians and linked to drug trafficking.
In July 2018 Ardot Parojinog was arrested in Taiwan for having entered the country with false documents and deported to the Philippines, where he was imprisoned pending trial on charges of multiple crimes, including murder, drug trafficking and arms dealing.
Duterte repeatedly pointed to the Parojinog clan as “narcopoliticians” operating in Mindanao, an unstable region in the southern Philippines marked by the presence of Muslim rebel groups, Jihadist militias and private paramilitary armies, such as the one owned by the Parojinog.
Authorities also accuse them of having ordered their private militia to kill police officers who refused to cooperate with their illicit operations. EFE-EPA