MANILA - Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre has asked the Supreme Court to hold the trial of the criminal cases against detained Ozamiz Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog and her brother in Metro Manila.
In a letter dated August 17, Aguirre asked Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to transfer Parojinogs' cases to the Quezon City Regional Trial Court from local courts in Ozamiz.
"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 the Ozamiz City courts," the letter read.
"The fact that they (Parojinogs) 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 of witnesses, the judges and the prosecutors and subvert the criminal proceedings in Ozamiz City in their favor."
The Quezon City court, Aguirre noted, had issued the search warrants that policemen served against the properties of the Parojinog family last July 30.
Operatives allegedly met violent resistance from the political clan's bodyguards. The ensuing gun battle left 16 people dead, including the Parijonog patriarch, Ozamiz Mayor Reynaldo Sr., and his wife Susan.
Vice Mayor Parajinog and her brother were arrested after authorities found P1.4 million in cash, half a kilogram of suspected shabu and several firearms in her house.
The siblings were charged with violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act. They are currently detained at the national police headquarters at Camp Crame in Quezon City. -- With Johnson Manabat, ABS-CBN News