Maybe the country’s most talked about or revered policeman is a pro-life advocate, but not the placard-bearing type.
Although it is understandable that many eyebrows were raised when Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido claimed that he is pro-life because it is public knowledge that he was the chief of police in Albuera, Leyte, whose mayor, Rolando Espinosa was killed.
He is again the chief of police in Ozamiz City where late mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and 15 others were killed in a police operation led by him.
On Monday, in a speech during the National Heroes Day, President Rodrigo Duterte announced the new assignment of Espenido by saying: “You asked for the assignment sa Leyte, namatay ang mayor doon.
You asked for another assignment sa Ozamis, namatay ang mayor doon. Ngayon gusto mo sa Iloilo, mabubuhay kaya siya?”
The President was apparently referring to Iloilo City Mayor Patrick Jed Mabilog, one of the mayors who are consistently in his narco-list.
The opposition and critics of the administration’s war on drugs lost no time in painting him as the point man and executioner of Duterte’s war on drugs.
It appears, however, that we do not know the other side of the man.
First, let’s take a brief look of his background. PCI Espenido is a licensed criminologist who joined the police service in 1996 as a very ordinary cop who started with the lowest rank of police officer 1 (PO1) in the PNP organization.
He is a dedicated policeman. He really knows his job; that is why he received a lot of commendations.
I interviewed Espenido many times in my “Straight to the Point” radio program aired over dyHP RMN Cebu.
I sensed his substance and sincerity when he answered my series of questions.
Thus, I could not stop myself from asking him curiously why he served the lowest rank as PO1 for twelve long years without touching even the shadow of promotion.
He calmly answered that he was just doing religiously his job and in the process he encountered many problems, including his inability to ask favors from politicians and influential people.
It was only in the late of 2008 that he first tasted and savored the sweetness of a promotion through lateral entry.
Fast forward, since he became a commissioned officer of the PNP he has also shown a lot of accomplishments. Most of his missions were finished within a short period of time.
He has been an anti-drug and anti-gambling crusader even before Duterte became president. To cite a few, he made the towns where he was assigned as chief of police in Samar and Leyte as “illegal drugs and illegal gambling free.”
In fact in 2013, his campaign in San Miguel, Leyte, where he was also assigned got the support of the municipal parish priest, community, private sectors and the local government unit.
Second, let’s carefully examine and analyze the facts surrounding the incidents in Espenido’s assignments in Albuera, Leyte, and Ozamiz City where mayors Espinosa and Parojinog died.
Espenido can explain and justify well the incidents.
True that in less than a month of his assignment in Albuera, Leyte, he demolished the concrete drug trade in the area led by the untouchable drug lords Rolando Espinosa and his son Kerwin. When Espenido raided the mansions of the Espinosas, many of his private army died because they fought back. Mayor Espinosa surrendered and stayed in Camp Crame for fear of his life.
Note that when Espinosa went back to Albuera, Leyte, he stayed in the police station where Espenido was having his office.
He opted to stay at the police station under the custody of Espenido rather than stay in his house.
In fact, when a formal case was filed in court and when the latter ordered for his transfer in Baybay, Leyte sub-provincial jail, he asked the court that he would be allowed to continue staying at the Albuera Police Station because he felt safer with PCI Espenido.
This is something amazing considering that Espenido was responsible of killing members of his private army during a legitimate drug operation.
Unluckily, before the court could act upon the motion of Espinosa to transfer back to Albuera, Leyte police station, he was killed at Baybay, Leyte sub-provincial jail not by Espenido but by elements of Criminal Investigation and Detection Group 8 led by Supt. Marvin Marcos.
With regard to the Parojinogs, Espenido is credible and believable in saying that his team killed the mayor and 15 others because the latter’s guards shot first at the raiding team which forced them to retaliate.
Only those who fought back were killed; hence, Reynaldo Jr. and Vice Mayor Novah Princess were spared.
All these considered, we can say that Espenido really follows the rules of engagement during police operations. Otherwise, no Parojinog would be left alive during the incident.
I am quite sure that he is not like the police in Caloocan City who killed the 17-year-old Kian Lyod delos Santos.
They did not follow the rules of engagement. They destroy the credibility of the administration’s war on drugs. They are a shame in the PNP organization.
It is true that there were casualties during the operation led by Espenido, but he used reasonable force only when it is really necessary.
As a Bible-quoting policeman, he knows that it is a sin to kill but his expertise on the Bible lets him know that there are exceptions thereto, something that there are very few churchgoers seem unable to grasp.
Maybe, Espinido is pro-life after all.