MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The reassignment of Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido to Iloilo City has been cancelled, the Western Visayas police chief announced on Saturday, September 2.
Police Regional Office 6 (PRO6) Director Cesar Binag made the announcement in a news conference on the raid that killed alleged Western Visayas drug lord Richard Prevendido, and later confirmed it in other media interviews.
Senior Superintendent Henry Biñas will take over the Iloilo City post instead, Binag said.
"Nakatanggap kami ng order sa national headquarters na effective sa September 1, si Senior Superintendent Henry Biñas [ang Iloilo City police chief] (We received an order from the national headquarters that effective September 1, Senior Superintendent Henry Biñas [is the iloilo City police chief])," said Binag.
When asked for the reason behind the scrapped reassignment of Espenido to Iloilo City, Binag said in interviews with dzBB and dzMM Teleradyo that this was the order relayed to them by the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame.
"Kami dito, sabi ko nga, 'yung assignment ni Espenido, we welcome 'yan kasi magiging malaking tulong 'yung experience sa lugar, 'yung kanyang accomplishments malaking maitutulong. 'Yun nga lang, nagbago decision ng national headquarters. Kami ay susunod lang naman doon," Binag said.
(We in the regional office welcome the assignment of Espenido because he will be of great help considering his experience and his accomplishments. But then, the national headquarters changed its decision. We are just following that.)
ABS-CBN reported on Saturday that according to PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, Espenido would remain as Ozamiz City police chief.
President Rodrigo Duterte himself announced the reassignment of Espenido to Iloilo City on August 28. Duterte had previously tagged Iloilo province as the most "shabulized" in the country.
The appointment faced opposition as Espenido's rank disqualifies him from the post. Espenido would have to be a Senior Superintendent – two promotions away – to head a highly-urbanized city like Iloilo. (READ: Why Jovie Espenido can't be Iloilo's chief of police)
Following the President's order, Dela Rosa earlier said they made Espenido an "exemption" by assigning him as officer-in-charge of Iloilo City police instead.
The PNP chief said later, however, that he preferred Espenido to remain in Ozamiz City to complete the crime and illegal drugs cleanup, and that he would raise this concern to the President. Three days later, the PNP cancelled Espenido's new assignment. (READ: Dela Rosa: Espenido should be in Ozamiz, not Iloilo)
The reassignment of Espenido to Iloilo City was a “cause of concern” following the track record of the police officer, especially after Duterte pointed out the two mayors in his drug list who were killed in police raids when Espenido was police chief in their areas.
Espenido was assigned to Albuera town in Leyte, when Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr was killed in a raid in is jail cell; and to Ozamiz City when mayor Reynaldo Parojinog was killed in a police operation. (READ: TIMELINE: Parojinog, from Duterte's narco list to a bloody raid)
Duterte had wondered aloud whether Iloilo City Mayor Jed Mabilog, whom he tagged in his drug list, would "survive" since Espenido was supposed to be his police chief. Mabilog had categorically denied the allegation. (READ: Narcopolitician or 'best mayor'? Who is Iloilo City's Jed Mabilog?)– Rappler.com