CHIEF Insp. Jovie Espenido, the police officer with a growing reputation for getting rid of local officials linked to the illegal drug trade, is moving to Iloilo City.
No less than President Rodrigo Duterte issued Espenido’s marching orders in a speech at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on National Heroes’ Day, Monday.
“You (Espenido) ask for assignment? You were assigned in Albuera, and the mayor died. You got Ozamiz, the mayor died. If you go to Iloilo, would Mabilog stay alive? He has been identified as protector of drug personalities. I am asking you now because I might be the one who will they point at again [the moment the mayor dies],” Duterte said.
“Your next assignment is Iloilo,” Duterte added.
Mabilog is Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog of Iloilo City, which Duterte once described as the “most shabulized” in the country – meaning it had lots of “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride) available.
In the same speech, Duterte also referred to Rolando Espinosa and Reynaldo Parajinog, mayors of Albuera, Leyte and Ozamiz City respectively who died in separate police raids amid allegations that they were involved in the illegal drug trade.
In both cases, Espenido was the chief of police.
Asked about his new assignment, Espenido, in a television interview, said, “See you.”
Espenido was awarded with Order of Lapu Lapu medal, Magalong rank, for his “significant contribution in advancing the advocacy of the President” and “showing valor, kindness and extraordinary acts of service to the country.”
“He wants to be assigned in Iloilo, I will assign him there. He is a dedicated man. He knows his law. He should repeat his exploits in other parts of the country,” Duterte said in a chance interview on Monday.
Duterte has been under fire here and abroad for the high incidence of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) resulting from his relentless campaign against illegal drugs.
The latest victim was 17-year-old Kian de los Santos who was gunned down by Caloocan City police during its anti-drug operations last Aug. 16. The senior high school student was buried on Sunday.
According to CCTV footage and witness accounts, de los Santos was unarmed and was pleading for his life, contrary to police allegations that he pulled out a gun, which forced them to shoot him.
The three policemen linked to the shooting have since been relieved of their duties and were facing investigation as Duterte vowed to put de los Santos’ killers in jail.
He added, however, that this incident with de los Santos would in no way affect his campaign against illegal drugs.