Controversy tracks Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido

CONTROVERSY seems to follow Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido.

Before he was assigned to head the Ozamiz City Police Office, he was the chief of the Albuera Police in Leyte when then town mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. was shot dead by Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) agents inside his detention cell in Baybay City in November 2016.

READ: Albuera mayor slain in prison; family vows to seek justice

Espenido was reassigned to Ozamiz City in Misamis Occidental a month later, or in December 2016.

More than six months later, on July 7, 2017, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa issued a special order placing Espenido on preventive suspension for 90 days effective July 17.

The suspension order was issued in relation to the complaint filed by Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez against Espenido last year. Espenido had accused Gomez of involvement in the alleged illegal drug operations of Espinosa, an allegation that Gomez has denied.

The suspension order was, however, cancelled effective July 13 and Espenido, instead of going on vacation, reported back to work at the Ozamiz Police Office.

Two weeks later, police and CIDG agents swooped down on six properties of Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and his family. The mayor, his wife Susan and brother Octavio Jr. were among 15 persons killed in the simultaneous raids.

READ: Ozamiz mayor, 14 others killed in drug raid

Both mayors Espinosa and Parojinog were among the government officials accused by President Rodrigo Duterte last year of narco-politics.

In both the Espinosa case and the Parojinog raids, police and CIDG agents served the search warrants before dawn. Police also said the subjects resisted.

Espinosa Sr. and his fellow inmate Raul Yap were killed inside their detention cell at past 4 a.m. of November 5, 2016. Espinosa allegedly resisted, forcing the CIDG agents to shoot him and Yap.

In the Parojinog raids, police and CIDG agents swooped down on the homes of the mayor, his daughter Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog-Echavez, son Reynaldo Parojinog Jr., and brother Ozamiz City Councilor Ricardo Parojinog around 2:30 a.m., Sunday, July 30.

Police said the raiding team was met with gunshots at the mayor's residence in San Roque Lawis.

Police Regional Office (PRO)-Northern Mindanao spokesperson Lemuel Gonda said the order that set aside Espenido's suspension order did not cite any reasons for the cancellation.

"Wala nakabutang ang reasons (The reasons were not stated). We are just following orders from the national headquarters," Gonda said.

READ: PNP chief cancels Espenido 90-day suspension

Espenido figured in yet another controversy after families of slain robbery and gun-for-hire suspects killed in a supposed police operation cried foul after the bodies of the suspects were left in front of Ozamiz City Hall for about 12 hours last July 2.

The police chief had explained that the bodies were displayed so that their kin could identify them and to encourage people allegedly victimized by the slain suspects to come forward.

Espenido was also made to explain earlier an alleged video of him hitting a drug suspect in police custody. (MVI/SunStar Philippines)

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