MANILA (Reuters) - A southern Philippine mayor on President Rodrigo Duterte’s list of top drug suspects was killed during a pre-dawn raid at his home on Mindanao island, police said on Sunday.
Reynaldo Parojinog was the third mayor to be killed in the government’s bloody narcotics crackdown.
Parojinog, the mayor of Ozamiz city, was killed during a gun battle with police serving a search warrant at his home.
Several high-powered firearms and an unspecified amount of methamphetamines were recovered, Timoteo Pacleb, chief of police of Northern Mindanao, told reporters.
“Police were met with a volley of fire...prompting police to retaliate,” Pacleb said.
Several others, including Parojinog’s wife, were killed during the raid.
“The Parojinogs, if you would recall, are included in President Duterte’s list of personalities involved in the illegal drug trade,” Ernesto Abella, the president’s spokesperson, said in a statement.
In November, the mayor of Albuera town in central Leyte whom Duterte asked to surrender over his alleged involvement in the drug trade, was killed during a shootout inside his detention cell. [L4N1D606Z]
Duterte has promised an unrelenting war on drugs, defying critics who were “trivializing” his campaign with human rights concerns and unjustly blaming the authorities for the bloodshed. [L3N1KF3C2]
Another mayor suspected of involvement in illegal drugs in southern Mindanao and nine of his men were killed in a shootout at a police checkpoint in Cotabato in October. [L4N1CY1YM]
Critics say Duterte has turned a blind eye to thousands of deaths during police operations that bear all the hallmarks of executions.
Police say they have killed suspects only in self defense and deny involvement in a spree of killings of drug users by mysterious vigilantes.
Duterte in several of his news conferences and public events has waved a thick book he said contained names of officials suspected of drug links. The book contains about 3,000 names.
Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Kim Coghill