By ADRIAN STEWART CO and RUBY SILUBRICO
MANILA – It was President Rodrigo Duterte himself who ordered the transfer of controversial Police Major Jovie Espenido from Northern Mindanao to Western Visayas. It was the Chief Executive’s response to Bacolod City’s problem, particularly on illegal drugs, according to Malacañang.
Espenido is expected to report to the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) in Iloilo City next week. His projected assignment is the Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO). His specific post, however, remains unclear.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President received a lot of reports about the illegal drug problem in Bacolod City.
He quoted the President as saying, “‘Kaya nga nag-ano si Espenido. ‘Yan ang response ko diyan sa problema ng Bacolod.’”
Espenido led the drug raid that killed Ozamiz City mayor Reynaldo Parojinog, his wife and several others in July 2017.
He was the police chief in Albuera, Leyte when then mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., who was detained for charges of illegal drugs and illegal possession of firearms, was killed in his cell in November 2016.
With his current rank, Espenido does not qualify to sit as director of the BCPO, but only police stations under it.
Espenido could also be leading the antidrug unit of the PRO-6, the Regional Drug Enforcement Unit (RDEU).
If he lands at the RDEU, Espenido said he would prioritize high-value drug suspects such as Ernesto Bolivar of Pototan, Iloilo.
“Kahit saan tayo ma-assign, trabaho lang tayo. Of course, I need the help of the media kasi partner ng pulis ang media,” he said.
Drug trafficking remains a problem in Bacolod City. Recent police operations resulted to the confiscation of shabu worth millions of pesos.
In January this year, President Duterte sacked five Bacolod police officers whom he accused of protecting drug syndicates. He also took potshots at a city councilor.
Bacolod City police director, Police Colonel Henry Biñas said Espenido is welcome in his turf.
“No problem if Espenido is assigned here. He is a hardworking police officer,” Biñas said.
In Aug. 28, 2017 Espenido was reassigned by the President from Ozamiz City to Iloilo City that he branded as “most shabulized.”
The reassignment, however, was recalled just days after by Duterte himself who said he was giving in to the requests of the residents of Ozamiz City not to transfer Espenido yet.
It was found out that Espenido, then with the rank of Chief Inspector, was not yet qualified to become the director of a police office; he could only be a chief of a police of station.
Iloilo City is a highly-urbanized city. To head the Iloilo City Police Office, a police officer should have the rank of a Police Colonel./PN