ARE local cops incompetent to solve the illegal drug menace in Iloilo that a police official with a “bloody career trail” must be reassigned to Iloilo by President Rodrigo Duterte himself?
And will it take a Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido to curb the illegal drug trade in the metropolis?
Had the illegal drug trade in Iloilo worsened compared to Metro Manila?
These are several questions that boggle Ilonggo observers amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement that Espenido’s next assignment is Iloilo.
With the public questioning their qualifications and competence, did Espenido’s reassignment demoralize the local police force?
The answer is a resounding no. Well, at least according to the leadership of the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) and the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO).
Superintendent Gilbert Gorero, PRO-6 spokesman, said they welcome Espenido’s assignment to Western Visayas, particularly in Iloilo.
In fact, “We welcome everyone who wants to work here and help us combat criminality,” he added.
Gorero said anyone who wanted to work for the good of the Ilonggo people should not be a cause for demoralization.
Meanwhile, ICPO director Senior Superintendent Remus Zacharias Canieso said in a text message, “walang demoralization sa ranks and welcome si C/Insp. Espenido dito sa ICPO. Makakatulong sya sa trabaho.”
But for some netizens, the assignment of Espenido is an insult to the men and women of PRO-6.
FB user Fran C Isco, a policeman himself, shared his view on the recent development.
“The need for a one man to come over to solve the alleged menace here is an indication that we are futile and incapacitated to do our job.
This is not the time to rejoice.
This is the moment to restropect.
Are we as helpless as they think?
Are we as sick as they judged us?”
He added that it might devalue the initiative and collaborations that the region has made. “It will also degrade the qualifications, professionalism and competence of the leaders here.”
His post also elicited a comment from Honey Paredes, the former regional director of the National Police Commission, saying “I pray that PNP Region 6 will not lose its heart and soul.”
But as of presstime, Gorero said they received no formal order on Espenido’s assignment to PRO-6.
On the occasion of the National Heroes’ Day at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on Aug. 28, Duerte told Espenido, “You asked for assignment sa Ozamiz, namatay ang mayor doon. Ngayon gusto mo sa Iloilo, kasi si Mabilog.”
The President was referring to Jed Patrick Mabilog, the mayor of Iloilo City.
PRO-6 director Chief Superintendent Cesar Hawthorne Binag said he welcomes any officer who will be assigned in Western Visayas.
Mabilog was included in the President’s list of local chief executives allegedly involved in illegal drugs, an allegation he repeatedly and strongly denied.
Duterte had labeled Iloilo as “most shabulized” and “bedrock of drugs”, particularly a “transshipment point” of illegal drugs in the Visayas.
Immediately following Duterte’s pronouncement, Mabilog issued a statement welcoming Espenido’s eventual assignment to Iloilo.
He also assured to work with him to topple the illegal drug problem in Iloilo.
But this gesture did not apparently sit well with Duterte who asserted that Mabilog is on the updated list of illegal drug personalities.
He also told the mayor to cut his alleged illegal drug connections before something happened.
With his latest assignments, many believed that Espenido might also bring his bloody trail to Iloilo, just like what happened to Albuera, Leyte and Ozamiz City.
Espenido’s last two assignments were marked by the deaths of Mayors Rolando Espinosa Sr. of Albuera, Leyte in December 2016 and Reynaldo Parojinog and his family of Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental in July 2017.
Espinosa and Parojinog were among the government officials accused by Duterte of protecting the illegal drug trade in a speech in August 2016.
Duterte also tagged Mabilog as a “narco-politician,” which the latter vehemently denied.
The label prompted Mabilog to exert more effort in the campaign against illegal drugs like institutionalizing the rehabilitation of drug addicts and giving more resources to the police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
Lately, Mabilog has been pressuring barangay officials to prioritize drug-clearing operations.
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