Nalzaro: What caused Espino’s relief?

CAMP Crame has relieved Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Chief Jose Mario Espino from his post. He will be assigned in region 10 based in Cagayan de Oro City. He will be replaced by Chief Supt. Robert Guzman Quenery, a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) batch 85. He hails from Malolos, Bulacan.

What caused of Espino’s relief? Was it in connection with allegations raised against him? Or was it because of recent movements at the Philippine National Police (PNP) general headquarters following the retirement of some generals?

Director Augusto Marquez Jr., a Cebuano and chief of the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management, has retired. Sheldon Jacaban, former deputy regional director for administration in PRO 7, will retire on January 30. About 45 PNP generals are scheduled to retire this year, including PNP Chief Ronal “Bato” dela Rosa.

Speculations are rife that the relief of Espino has something to do with the allegation that he demanded “payola” from gambling lords. Dela Rosa has ordered the Regional Internal Affairs Service (RIAS) 7 to investigate Espino.

A few weeks ago, I discussed in this column and in my radio broadcast the same allegations contained in a “white paper” I received. Espino vehemently denied the allegations, saying these were mere gossips. RIAS 7 investigators visited me and gathered additional information.

The “white paper” alleged that Espino, upon his assumption sometime in July, called gambling lords operating in Cebu and in the region to a meeting and demanded P500,000 weekly protection money. He allegedly bragged that that the PNP chief is “ours.” Espino and dela Rosa are batch mates in the PMA. Included in the allegation was Espino’s wife supposedly intervening in the official function of her husband.

Espino was assigned here only six months ago. He replaced Noli Talino who was appointed chief of the Directorate for Human Resources and Doctrine Development in Camp Crame. Talino has just been promoted to the rank of Director (two stars) and now heads the Special Action Force (SAF).

Why he was Espino relieved when usually a commander has two years tour of duty? The PNP hierarchy should have give him the maximum period or maybe a year before relieving him. There are many “floating generals” in Camp Crame that can be assigned in Region 10 without touching Espino here. Beside, his new posting is a sort of demotion because Region 7 is more progressive and highly urbanized.

Often a PRO 7 chief, when relieved, is ssigned in Camp Crame for a higher position. And why was the relief immediate when the PNP hierarchy knows that there is a big even coming, the Sinulog?

A new police commander assigned in a new area will implement three Oplans: Pakilala, Paalaala and Paalam. Para bawon ba. Pagkatoytoy!

•••

By the way, I would like to congratulate my friend, Rey Lyndon Lawas, a Cebuano and the former deputy regional director for administration in PRO 7, who was recently promoted to the rank of chief superintendent. Rey belongs to PMA batch 87. My snoopy salute, Sir Rey.
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