De Lima finds Ardot Parojinog’s death ‘highly suspicious’


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has raised doubts over the legitimacy of the cause of death of  former City Councilor Ricardo “Ardot” Parojinog who reportedly died of cardiac arrest due to a heart disease inside his detention cell in Ozamiz police station last Sept. 4.

De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, said Parojinog’s cause of death was immediately announced without a proper autopsy while foul play was peremptorily ruled out by authorities.

“After the killing of his brother, the former Mayor of Ozamis City, and several other family members in the massacre of the Parojinog family in 2017, here comes another suspicious death of a Parojinog, former City Councilor Ricardo “Ardot” Parojinog, who is a fellow PDL here at the PNP Custodial Center,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 903.

“In those unusual instances of death while in the custody of PNP, the cause of death should be conclusively established through an autopsy, considering precedents of summary execution of even those already under detention,” she added.

Northern Mindanao police director Brig. Gen. Rolando Anduyan reportedly confirmed that Parojinog died of “cardiopulmonary arrest secondary to cardiovascular disease or probably COVID-19” while PNP spokesperson Police Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac claimed that investigators found no sign of violence inside the cell where Parojinog was found dead.

It can be recalled that Parojinog, who is facing multiple charges, was brought to Ozamiz City last Sept. 3 from the PNP Custodial Center in Quezon City for a court hearing. He had been held at the PNP Custodial Center since his arrest in 2018.

De Lima, a former justice secretary, wondered why the trial of Parojinog’s case had to be held in Ozamis City when there was sufficient basis for a change of venue and why he had to be brought there personally for the hearing when a virtual hearing via video-conferencing is allowed during this pandemic.

“In travelling to Ozamis City for the scheduled hearing, Mr. Parojinog was escorted by a small team of PNP Custodial officers and personnel, presumably to be reinforced by the local police. While there, he was placed inside the local police station’s jail. How convenient for the authorities that Parojinog suddenly dies there,” she said.

“Nobody thought of posting, round-the-clock, a PNP Custodial guard (not local police) outside his cell? They know or should have known that Ozamis City has become a hostile territory for the now beleaguered Parojinog clan whom the President threatened to ‘wipe out’. Truly, this is another suspicious death of a targeted drug personality within a jail or prison,” she added.

In raising possibilities for a foul play, De Lima recalled the recent suspicious death of high-profile Bilibid inmate Jaybee Sebastian who is touted to be a “star witness” against her.

“The official version of the cause of his death is ‘acute myocardial infarction’ or heart attack due to ‘complications from COVID-19’. I believe that he was murdered to prevent him from retracting his statement against me,” she noted.

“Astoundingly, Sebastian supposedly executed a new affidavit embellishing his stories accusing me of involvement in the Bilibid drug trade, 6 days before his death! And now the prosecution wants to present this affidavit in evidence, as if an affidavit can be cross-examined on the truth of its contents. How convenient for my tormentors and their DOJ lackeys!” she added.

 A victim of political persecution under the vengeful Duterte regime, De Lima was illegally detained since Feb. 24, 2017 based on trumped-up charges that were mostly based on perjured testimonies of convicted criminals and manufactured evidence. (30)

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