Who’s afraid of Espenido? Not the mayor of Cebu town
CEBU CITY — He may have been on the narcolist of the Duterte administration, but retired Chief Supt. Vicente Loot, now mayor of Daanbantayan town in northern Cebu, is not afraid of Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido.
Loot is one of the former and current police officials whom President Rodrigo Duterte publicly tagged last year as drug coddlers.
Espenido is formerly the police chief of Albuera, Leyte province, whose mayor, Rolando Espinosa Sr., was killed.
Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr. of Ozamiz City was killed months after Espenido was reassigned there.
Espinosa and Parojinog were earlier identified by the President as drug traders.
On Monday, Loot said he had sent a text message to Espenido, relaying his intent to have the controversial officer in Daanbantayan as its police chief.
“I would be glad to work with him. It would be good if he would be assigned in Daanbantayan so he could help me. I know him as a person. He stands his ground. He is an upright man,” the mayor told the Inquirer over the phone.
The text message was sent on Aug. 29, but Loot did not get any response from Espenido.
“The text message I sent to him was long,” he said. “He would text me at times but they are all Bible verses.”
During the National Heroes’ Day celebration on Aug. 28, Mr. Duterte announced that Espenido would be transferred from Ozamiz to Iloilo City.
Five days later, Chief Supt. Cesar Hawthorne Binag, Western Visayas police director, announced the cancellation of Espenido’s deployment and that he would remain with the Northern Mindanao regional police.
Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa later revealed that it was Mr. Duterte who ordered the cancellation.
Dela Rosa claimed people from Ozamiz were “demoralized” and were planning to hold mass actions to keep Espenido.
Loot said Espenido could help him clear his name.
“He knows how it feels to be persecuted. I don’t know how to defend myself because I don’t know what is the exact accusation against me. If given the opportunity to dig deeper, he (Espenido) will find out what really is the cause of the issue against me,” the mayor said.
When he was assigned to Eastern Visayas, first as deputy regional director for operation (August-October 2010) and later as deputy regional director for administration (November 2010 to Dec. 26, 2012), Loot said there were people, including fellow policemen, who got mad at him for fighting illegal drugs and other crimes.
“Soon after I left the region, they fabricated derogatory stories against me,” Loot said.
He said he welcomed any investigation to prove his innocence.
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