Palace: PNP stopped Espenido transfer
Those wondering where the order to cancel the transfer of controversial Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido to Iloilo City emanated should stop looking at Malacañang.
A Palace spokesperson said it was the Philippine National Police that decided to cancel the assignment of Espenido, praised by President Duterte for successful but bloody antidrug operations, as Iloilo City police chief.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the PNP leadership decided not to proceed with the controversial police officer’s transfer based on its “established policies and procedures.”
“This is the decision reached by the leadership of the Philippine National Police following the established policies and procedures in the transfer, reassignment and designation of their personnel,” Abella said in a statement.
“Everyone is enjoined to respect the order of the high command,” he added.
Espenido previously served as police chief of Albuera, Leyte, and Ozamiz City, where bloody antidrug raids led by him resulted in the killings of two mayors who had been tagged by Mr. Duterte as narcopoliticians.
On Aug. 28, National Heroes’ Day, Mr. Duterte announced his decision to transfer Espenido from Ozamiz to Iloilo City, which the President described as a top narcotics market headed by a mayor linked to drugs, Jed Patrick Mabilog.
But Supt. Gilbert Gorero, spokesperson of the Western Visayas police regional office, said Espenido lacked the qualification to lead the Iloilo City or provincial police force because he did not have the rank of senior superintendent, which was two levels higher than Espenido’s current rank of chief superintendent.
According to PNP rules, a senior superintendent rank was required for officers to lead a police force of a highly urbanized area, like Iloilo City.
Although Mr. Duterte had tagged Mayor Mabilog as a narcopolitician, which the mayor repeatedly denied, no charge against Mabilog had been filed.
The President questioned the source of funds used to build what he described as Mabilog’s palace in Iloilo City, insinuating that drug money could have helped the mayor build the house.
Mabilog had publicly expressed support for the Duterte administration’s war on drugs and had showed off his own antidrug campaigns. But these did not impress the President.
“I tell you again, mayor: You’re being linked (to the drug trade),” Mr. Duterte had said.
“For the longest time, you are in the updated list (of government officials involved in drugs). That’s the truth,” the President said.
“Now that nothing has happened yet, maybe you want to cut your ties (with drug syndicates),” Mr. Duterte said.
“Do not protect (drugs). Do not call the police. Do not just mess up because if you are there, you’re also a drug lord,” the President said.
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