Ormoc journalist sues Albuera police chief for ‘coddling drug suspect’
CEBU CITY — A journalist based in Ormoc City, Leyte, has filed a string of complaints against the police chief of Albuera town in Leyte, for allegedly coddling a drug suspect connected to Eastern Visayas’ top drug trafficking suspect Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr.
Lalaine Jimenea, the publisher of the Eastern Visayas Mail (EV Mail), requested the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido whom she said should be held accountable for grave misconduct and abuse of authority.
Espenido, she said, also violated section 3 ee, paragraph 1 of Republic Act (RA) 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, the law penalizing any person who wilfully shielded a drug suspect to prevent the prosecution and conviction of the violator.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer tried but failed to reach Espenido through the phone. A text message sent to him was also left unanswered.
Jimenea was one of the seven persons charged at the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Leyte for allegedly receiving payola from Kerwin Espinosa. The complaint was filed by Espenido based on the affidavit executed by the father of Kerwin, Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., who was later detained on charges of illegal drugs and illegal possession of firearms.
The elder Espinosa was killed in what the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Eastern Visayas (CIDG-8) members claimed was a shootout when they raided their cell at the sub-provincial jail in Baybay City, Leyte early morning of Nov. 5.
Incidentally, the CIDG-8 was headed by Supt. Marvin Marcos who happens to be a nephew of Jimenea. He has since been relieved pending investigation on the shootout.
In her complaint against Espenido, Jimenea said Max Miro, the alleged trusted drug distributor of Kerwin, surrendered to Espenido at the Albuera police station last Sept. 23, and turned over three kilos of a white crystalline substance believed to be shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride). The turnover was covered by the media, she said. But instead of immediately turning over the substance to the crime laboratory for examination, Jimenea said Espenido waited for three days before he did so, putting doubt on the process of preserving the evidence.
Under Section 21 of Republic Act 9165, the police must, within 24 hours, upon confiscation of the dangerous drugs, submit to the forensic laboratory any seized items for a qualitative and quantitative examination.
Aside from failing to comply with the procedure, Jimenea said Espenido did not file any case against Miro with regard to the confiscation of three kilos of shabu with a street value of about P3 million.
Jimenea has secured a certification from the provincial prosecutor in Leyte to prove that no charges were filed by Espenido against Miro.
“Respondent is playing as a prosecutor or judge because he makes his own choice who to prosecute or not,” she said in her complaint, which was filed at the anti-graft office in Quezon City last Monday.
“While other drug personalities are placed behind bars or buried six feet under the ground, Max Miro, a trusted drug pusher of Kerwin Espinosa, and apparently a favored suspect of the respondent, enjoyed free life under the protection of the latter,” she added.
Jimenea said Espenido’s act of not filing a case against Miro was tantamount to “protecting a drug pusher,” a violation of RA 9165. SFM
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