MAYOR Jed Patrick Mabilog welcomes the reassignment of Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido to Iloilo City.
In a statement issued Aug. 28, 2017, Mabilog said: “Gina-abi-abi ko gid ang pag-assign ni Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido diri sa Iloilo, although wala pa nabal-an kon sa city or sa province. Naga-laum ako nga mabuligan kita ni Chief Inspector Espenido nga lubos nga matapna ang problema sa illegal drugs. Sigurado may matun-an kita sa iya experience sa pagpakig-away sa droga, ilabi na sa pagtukib kon sin-o ang bag-o nga ‘players’ kag kon sa diin ini sila nagapanago (I welcome the assignment of Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido here in Iloilo, although I don’t know if he would be assigned in the city or province. I hope that Chief Inspector Espenido could help us to completely stop the problem on illegal drugs. Maybe, we would learn something from his experiences in fighting illegal drugs, especially on how to unearth the players and where could they be hiding.)”
Further, “in the city of Iloilo, I will share with him our own strategies and compare notes on how to win this war at the barangay level. Bukas pirmi ang aton pa-ino-ino sa mga ideya kon paano pa gid mahugot kag mapabaskog ang aton kampanya batok sa illegal drugs. (I am always open to the idea on how to further strengthen the campaign against illegal drugs)”
“I look forward to working side by side with Chief Inspector Espenido as the President’s point man in the battle against illegal drugs in Iloilo, both city and province,” Mabilog added.
But Duterte is not impressed with Mabilog’s welcoming stance.
In a press conference, Aug. 28, 2017, a reporter asked the President for his reaction to Mabilog’s statement that he will work side by side with Espinido.
Duterte cut him off saying, “Mabilog? I tell you again mayor, dinadawit ka. For the longest time updated list, nandyan ka. Eh sa totoo lang, ngayon pang walang nangyari baka gusto mo nang tapusin ang koneksyon mo,” he said.
“Do not protect… do not call the police na ganito na ganito. Do not just mess up with … Kasi kung nandyan ka, drug lord ka na rin eh. Mapipilitan ako,” he added.
Duterte went on to lambaste corrupt members of the judiciary and other mayors.
“Bakit kayo naga-protektar? Kayong mga mayor, kayong mga judges. Kayong mga prosecutors. Alam ko namang hindi lahat. Karamihan wala. Kayong mga corrupt. Kaya kung hindi kayo kuntento sa s’weldo n’yo, umalis kayo. Mag-drug lord na lang kayo. Bilyon ‘yan. Nagbobolahan pa tayo dito,” he added.
Meanwhile, Superintendent Gilbert Gorero, Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) spokesperon, said they are still waiting for the official order for Espenido’s reassignment from the PNP national headquarters in Camp Crame.
Speaking for PRO-6 director Chief Superintendent Cesar Hawthorne Binag, Gorrero said: “We welcome any officer who will be assigned in Western Visayas.”
Duterte’s decision belied his earlier pronouncement that Iloilo’s illegal drugs situation improved with the death of suspected drug lords, Melvin Odicta Sr. and his wife, Meriam in August 2016.
Duterte said the Odicta couple was the alleged supplier of illegal drugs in the Eastern side of the Visayas while the Parojinogs of Ozamiz City supplied narcotics in the Western side of the Visayas.
“Iloilo was the hotbed, ngayon medyo wala na,” Duterte said then.
The following day, August 22, Mabilog even thanked the President “for at least recognizing the efforts being done here in the city of Iloilo in his campaign and war against illegal drugs.”
While Espenido had been vocal about wanting to be assigned in Iloilo City, Ilonggos did not foresee it coming not until Duterte made his announcement.
PNP chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, who was in Iloilo City on Aug. 14, 2017 to grace the 116th Police Service Anniversary celebration of PRO-6, earlier said that he had no plan of assigning the controversial police officer here.
“Sa ngayon maraming problema doon sa Ozamiz, doon muna siya,” dela Rosa was quoted to have said.
“‘Di ba kaya ng Ilonggo na mga pulis dito? Ang daming magagaling na pulis na Ilonggo na pwedeng magtrabaho,” the PNP top cop said.
For dela Rosa, a lot of local police who are willing to do the job of eradicating illegal drugs if given the chance and opportunity.
The “narco-politician” label, meanwhile, 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.
When asked by Davila if he wants to dare Mabilog to make things right or face his wrath, Espenido said he will first hold a dialogue with the embattled mayor.
Earlier, the PNP and PDEA said Iloilo City Hall officials are not included in their watch list of drug protectors.
But authorities said they are readying charges against barangay officials who either coddled drug peddlers or neglected the anti-narcotics campaign.
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