POLICE CHIEF Inspector Jovie R. Espenido, who led the bloody raid that resulted in the death of 16 including the mayor of Ozamiz City, said on Tuesday he is “pro-life,” adding that the city mayor of Iloilo, where he would be transferred next, should have nothing to worry about if he has done nothing wrong.
In an ambush interview yesterday at the Department of Justice (DoJ), Mr. Espenido reiterated that he is only carrying out the drug war of President Rodrigo R. Duterte as a law enforcer.
On Monday, in a speech marking National Heroes’ Day, Mr. Duterte cited the efforts of policemen and ordered them to kill “idiots” who violently resist arrest. The remarks followed about a week after a teenager in Caloocan City was slain by cops in an anti-drug operation that sparked public concern and outrage.
Among the guests in the event held at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) was Mr. Espenido, of whom Mr. Duterte said: “Your duty requires you to overcome the resistance of the person you are arresting….[If] he resists, and it is a violent one, placing in jeopardy the lives of my policemen, and of course, the military, you are free to kill the idiots. That is my order to you.”
Mr. Duterte also pointed out a pattern in Mr. Espenido’s assignments: “You asked for the assignment sa Leyte, namatay ang mayor doon. (The mayor there died.) You asked for another assignment sa Ozamiz, namatay ang mayor doon — si [Reynaldo O. Parojinog, Sr.]. Ngayon gusto mo sa Iloilo kasi nga si (The mayor there died — Mr. Parojinog. Now, you want to go to Iloilo because) [Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog] has been identified as a protector.”
Mr. Espenido denied it. “Hindi naman,” he said, adding: “Ang sa atin man lang, pro-life tayo.” (We’re pro-life.)
Mr. Espenido was the chief of the Albuera Police when the alleged narco-mayor in Leyte, Roland R. Espinosa, Sr., was arrested. Mr. Espinosa was eventually killed by members of the Criminal Investigation Detection Group Region 8 (CIDG R8), then-led by Superintendent Marvin Wynn Marcos, in a supposed raid in his detention cell in Baybay, Leyte, in November last year.
The late Ozamiz City mayor Parojinog, meanwhile, was killed in a raid led by Mr. Espenido last July 30. Fifteen others, including the wife of Mr. Parojinog, were also killed.
But Mr. Espenido said yesterday that he remains “a professional law enforcer.” He added that once he steps foot in Iloilo City, the first thing he will do is pray.
“Magdasal na pahintulutan tayo na ma-comply yung karapat dapat na i-comply natin sa Iloilo in reference sa mga information na shabulized yung city na yun. Depende tayo sa Panginoon talaga,” he said.
(Let’s pray that we be allowed to comply with what we need to comply in Iloilo, in reference to information we received that it is a city where shabu proliferates. We really depend on God.)
He also noted, however, that he has yet to receive an order on when he will be transferred to Iloilo City.
Mr. Espenido was at the DoJ to submit his counter-affidavit in the murder and illegal detention case filed against him by the kin of Francisco Manzano, one of the nine suspected robbers in an operation last June.
In his counter-affidavit, he asked the DoJ to dismiss the criminal complaints against him, saying the complainant had given in to the Parojinogs.
“It is very unfortunate that complainant has succumbed to the pressure by the Parojinog group. Understandably, she is hopeless. I know fully well that this case is sponsored by the Parojinog group because the suspects involved were members of their armed group, and, more importantly to stop me from doing my job as a police officer.”
His counsel, Andres Fernandez, said Mr. Espenido maintained it was “a legitimate operation.” — Kristine Joy V. Patag
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