INVESTIGATORS from the Regional Internal Affairs Service (RIAS 7) are scheduled to meet me today to inquire more about the “white paper” I received accusing Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Chief Jose Mario Espino of receiving weekly protection money from gambling lords. The “white paper,” may have come from some disgruntled PRO7 personnel. It also mentioned the alleged questionable conduct of Espino’s wife.
According to sources, RIAS 7 was ordered by Camp Crame to look into these allegations. The Internal Affairs Service of the Philippines National Police (PNP) is a support group tasked to probe the administrative liabilities of members of the police force. It can only recommend sanctions and its recommendations are subject for review and approval by higher-ups especially if the one being investigated is a high-ranking officer like Espino, a chief superintendent.
The writer or writers of the “white paper” alleged that two weeks after Espino assumed office, he called to a meeting identified gambling lords in Metro Cebu through the Regional Intelligence Division (R2) and demanded P500,00 weekly protection money. He included those in the province of Siquijor even if illegal gambling operations in the island-province had been neutralized by the previous provincial director.
Espino reportedly told his police directors: “Don’t be afraid...because the PNP chief is ours.” Espino and PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa were batchmates at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).
Another allegation is that Espino withheld the release of the strikers’ (janitors’) Christmas benefits and 13th month pay. I don’t know if this is mandatory or voluntary because I was informed that strikers are considered volunteers.
Meanwhile, it was alleged that Mrs. Espino sometimes intervened in official matters, like relieving police commanders and even her personal escorts that she doesn’t like. Admittedly, I don’t want to deal on the allegations because she is not a police officer. Her conduct is a private matter and it should be her husband who should call her attention to it. Pero unsaon man pod pagtawag sa atensyon sa bana ngadto sa iyang asawa kun pananglit under ang bana? Let the couple resolve this issue.
Now, let me be clear on this. Before Christmas, I received a message from an unknown texter alleging the same issues. I told the texter to put these in writing so I have basis to make it public.
When I received that “white paper,” I did not discuss it immediately in my radio program and in my column. I referred the matter to the public information officer of PRO 7, Supt. Reyman Tolentin, for Espino’s comments. Since they were busy during the holidays, it was only last Dec. 28 that Espino was able to react. He did not comment on it saying, he will not comment on gossips.
The allegations need to be substantiated through a formal and official complaint. Though this is an administrative investigation that only needs “preponderance of evidence,” there should be concrete proof to pin down Espino. But who will dare to come out in the open and accuse an active general, especially if he is the “mistah” of the PNP chief? Ilabay na lang ni sa basurahan uy.