WHAT did Police Insp. Jovie Espenido do to deserve the accolade of President Duterte, who is driven largely by his campaign against illegal drugs?
Espenido didn’t have anything to do with the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. last Nov. 5 in the Baybay, Leyte jail. He had arrested the mayor but was not with the CIDG team that served a search warrant on Espinosa and killed the mayor and another detainee, Raul Yap, allegedly in an exchange of gunfire inside the jail.
If he was, Espenido was not included in the list of 18 police members, mostly of CIDG, who were charged with murder (later downgraded to homicide) for killing the Albuera mayor.
Some doubt was even cast on Espenido’s anti-drugs stance after the slain mayor’s son Roland “Kerwin” Espinosa disclosed that the police chief introduced Kerwin to Sen. Leila de Lima, who has been detained for alleged bribery and drug trafficking. Soon after the disclosure, Espenido on Dec. 8 was pulled out of Albuera and reassigned to Ozamis City.
Who killed whom
In the July 30 raids on three houses of Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr., in which the mayor and four members of his family and 11 others were killed, the Ozamiz police under Espenido joined with the CIDG and Misamis Occidential provincial police. It was not known who fired the shot that killed the mayor.
More accurately then, Espenido was the police chief in two local governments whose mayors were gunned down by police. He was not the killer of those mayors but they were killed during his watch, although the Espinosa killing occurred in Baybay, not in Albuera.
Espenido denied he was a killer of mayors but he seemed to relish the credit, from the way he talked about how President Duterte praised his work and how he’d welcome similar opportunities (“Maghintay lang kayo [Just you wait]”). After Leyte and Ozamiz, which locality would have its mayor terminated?
There are reportedly towns and cities that want Espenido as their police chief. That must show how killing as a drug-war weapon has come to be accepted by communities.
Espenido, a Seventh-day Adventist, quoted Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.”
After the Ozamiz bloodbath, another Bible-quoting local official said, Espenido could’ve quoted Romans 13-14: “Rulers don’t bear swords for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”
That would’ve been more apt for the role of punishers that he and many others in the police seem to have assumed in Duterte’s drug war.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on August 11, 2017.
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