METRO MANILA (MDN National News) - The revelation of two police officers that Lt Col Jovie Espenido was included in President Rodrigo Duterte's new "narco list" was confirmed by Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Thursday (Feb 13).
Lt. Col Jovie Espenido became controversial for his bloody war against illegal drug trade in the country, reportedly under the full support of President Rodrigo Duterte. After his two successful mission - the neutralization of drugs in Leyte which killed Mayor Rolando Espinosa Jr and also in Ozamiz City which also killed Mayor Aldong Parojinog.
But in his recent assignment in Bacolod, things changed for the dedicated police officer as he was relieved of his post as Bacolod City Police Chief on allegations of allegedly a protector of a drug syndicate which was reportedly a close rival of the Parojinogs in the past. Worst, he was even included in the latest "narco list" of the president, including 356 other policemen.
The recent turn of events involving one of the president's most trusted policemen now raise more questions among lawmakers about the president's conduct of the so-called "brutal drug war."
When asked by mediamen, Secretary Año said: “That’s true," confirming that the once most trusted man of Pres Duterte who have successfully neutralized two areas with the biggest drug problems in the country and even suspected of masterminding the killing of the two mayors on Duterte's "narco list" in the past.
But the Interior Secretary was also quick to say that Espenido "will also undergo validation and possible investigation.”
Meanwhile, the beleaguered and controversial Lt Col Jovie Espenido has declined to comment on the issue when aske by mediamen regarding his status.
Espenido's rise to controversy
When Preident Duterte started the drug war, Lt Col Jovie Espenido was the chief of police of Albuera, Leyte Province.
In 2006, when then Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa, Jr was detained for suspicion of his alleged involvement in the drug trade - more specifically as the alleged drug lord operating in Visayas, was killed in his cell by policemen claiming they were reportedly serving the arrest warrant to the mayor.
LtCol Espenido was relieved of his post a month after the death of the town mayor. Kerwin Espenosa, the mayor's son linked Espenido as a conduit to a certain Ronnie
Dayan, alleged bagman of Senator Leila De Lima, which is now detained and faced with several charges involving drugs.
Kerwin, who is now detained in Manila, has testified during a hearing by the Senate that Espinosa has been receiving bribes from drug personalities.
Senator Bato dela Rosa, who was then Duterte's PNP chief said that when he confronted Kerwin, refuted his accusations, saying he was forced to say so because of anger.
After he was relieved in Albuera, LtCol Espenido was then transferred in Ozamiz City.
On July 31,2017, a team of CIDG and police operatives of Ozamiz raided the house of the late Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr which killed the mayor and 14 of his men. This also resulted to the arrest of the mayor's son Parojinog Jr and his daughter who was also the City Vice Mayor.
Both Reynaldo Parojinog, Sr and Rolando Espinosa were positively identified by President Duterte as a drug lord. According to Duterte, the "narco list" was a result of months of surveillance and inteligence information gathering. Although both the late mayors denied Duterte's alleggations.
On October 8, 2017, PNP chief Oscar Albayalde transferred Espenido in Catanduanes a week after Judge Edmundo Pintac of Branch 15, Ozamiz City Regional Trial Court was shot dead by two assailants onboard a motorcycle vehicle.
There was also a plan to transfer Espenido to Samar but on Duterte's order he was instead transferred back to Ozamiz City in November 2017.
On orders of President Duterte, Jovie Espenido was transferred to Bacolod City on October 2019, saying that the city was "badly hit" by the illegal drug operations.
But former PNP chief and now senator Panfilo Lacson came to the rescue of Espenido and said he has known the beleaguered police officer as a dedicated cop who performed with "integrity and dedication"
Lacson said he has known Espenido when when led the then Anti-Organized Crime Task Force during the presidency of Joseph Estrada.
Lacson said: “At least that was how I knew him in the many instances that he faced those challenges.”
Lacson is hoping those reports against Espenido were all not true and only lies.
The senator said “If indeed Espenido is now involved in illegal drugs and I hope it isn’t the case, I can only assume that he succumbed to the lure of big money that is the root of all temptations that police officers like him failed to resist.”
MDN exerted efforts yesterday in contacting the beleaguered police official but all efforts proved futile.
In a report by the Inquirer, the source who had requested anonymity for his own safety alleged that Col Jovie Espinido is now an alleged protector of Parojinog rivals in the drug trade in Mindanao.
The Parojinogs in Ozamis were responsible in the creation of "Kuratong Baleleng" which started as a private army of the Parojinogs against the New People Army (NPA) but later turn into criminals involved in a spate of robberies, hold ups and other forms of criminalities not only in Mindanao but also in Metro Manila.
It was learned that Espinedo was among those relieved of current post in the latest revamp of police officers. He was reportedly reassigned at the PNP National Headquarters, particularly at the office of the PNP Chief.
It can be recalled that Col Espinedo was reassigned in Ozamis City to help in the neutralization of drug traficking in Ozamiz and elsewhere in Mindanao reportedly under the operation of the Parojinog drug syndicate.
He was the chief of police when Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog's house was raided by his team on July 30, 2017. During the raid, the mayor died and fourteen of his men.
The Mayor's son Reynaldo Jr and daughter Nova Princess, then the vice mayor of Ozamiz, are still in prison for illegal drug charges filed against them in court.
The new PNP chief Archie Gamboa when asked by the media did not confirm the report that Col Espinedo is indeed in the "narco list"of the president.
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