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Espenido is on a road less travelled 

By: Atty. Ruphil F. Bañoc - CDN Digital | February 21,2020 - 08:17 AM

How come the poster boy of the war on drugs, Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido, who received all the praises of President Rodrigo Duterte now included in the narco list? Who included his name in the list? Worst, who tagged him in that list as high value target on the same level of drug lord Kerwin Espinosa? 

Last Tuesday, Espenido appeared personally in my radio program aired over DYHP RMN Cebu to clear his name of the allegations against him. He brought with him documents that proved that he has been cleared since 2016; hence, he wondered why he is again included. 

He explained that the allegation was anchored on a meeting that he had with the late Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa and his lawyer in a restaurant in Ormoc City. Because he was seen meeting with the mayor, it was made as basis of the investigation. 

He was cleared because he was able to explain that it was upon the instruction of then PNP Chief Ronald Bato dela Rosa, after the mayor surrendered in Camp Crame. He also emphasized that the place itself, a crowded restaurant, would speak for itself that he did not have an illegal transaction. 

He pointed out that it is not new for him to be confronted with bad experiences in the organization. He said he entrusted everything to God.

He narrated the following experiences:  He was triggered to join the police when his family’s sari-sari store became a victim of robbery. He said that he was not pleased with the way the police handled the case. So he asked his wife to permit him to join the PNP so he could make a difference.

As early as his training days in 1996 here in Cebu, he has shown no tolerance towards anomalies. Hence, he filed a case against their commandant over an insurance anomaly. His prayer was simple that God would just make him a policeman. 

He was given the lowest rank of PO1 or private. He recalled that he was the one who arrested the leader of the known robbery group that robbed his family’s sari-sari store. 

When he was assigned in Ormoc City under the City Anti-Narcotics Office (CANO), he filed a case against his own chief of police who was involved in illegal drugs. 

In 2000, Sen. Panfilo Lacson who was then PAOCTF chief invited him to join the group. He was encouraged in that group as they were tasked to arrest abusive public officials. 

He was also assigned in the Regional Intelligence and Investigation Division (RIID) Region 8. He conducted buy-bust operations that neutralized the drug trade in Isabel, Leyte. 

Contrary to his many accomplishments, he remained a PO1 for 12 years. It was very unusual because, as practiced, police are promoted every 2-3 years. He realized the consequences of filing cases against his higher ups. His promotions suffered. 

He was not discouraged because anyway he just wanted to become a police. So he did not mind the promotions. Until such time that his regional director noticed his accomplishments he was told to just apply for promotion through lateral entry. He became a lieutenant. 

He was assigned in a critical municipality in Samar. The place was supposed to be led by a chief of police with the rank of major. But he was given the task even if he was just a lieutenant, a way junior than major. 

Within 30 days, he solved the problem of private armies in the place. So he was given a spot promotion of Captain. He again encountered another big armed group in the place and when he was again about to be given a spot promotion for major, it was not realized because he was hit by politics. 

When there was change of leadership in Region 8, he was assigned in RSOG. He neutralized a drug lord in Ormoc City at that time. He solved the drug problem in Isabel, Merida and Ormoc. 

With that accomplishment he was again about to be given a spot promotion. But another tragic incident happened because there were changes in leadership in DILG and he was again hit by politics. He was assigned in a far place in Mindanao. 

He did not expect that after the 2016 election he received a call from now senator and then PNP Chief Ronald Bato dela Rosa. He was assigned in Albuera, Leyte to solve the drug problem with the Espinosas. 

Within 18 days, he neutralized the Espinosas. His next assignment was in Ozamis City to face the Parojinogs. Within 5 months, he neutralized the Parojinogs.  

His accomplishments reached the office of the President. He became the face of the war on drugs. He was assigned in Iloilo City, a highly urbanized city, a place that requires a full-fledged colonel. 

He was assigned for weeks but returned to Ozamis as the people their requested that he should be retained as their chief of police.

Another reason was that his rank was lower and some officers protested.

Recently, he was assigned in Bacolod City before this shocking controversy erupted. Espenido said that even before Duterte, he already had crusaded to trample bad eggs. How come he would be involved in drugs now in Duterte’s time?

Amidst Espenido’s problem with his higher-ups in the PNP, at least the President still believes in his sincerity. Also, Senators Dela Rosa and Lacson expressed their trust with Espenido.

With this, worth investigating also are those who included his name in the list. They should be asked if they really know of Espenido’s background? Do they really have the basis? Are they credible enough? Are they not the ones connected with the drug lords? Are they not motivated with envy? 

Another angle is, is this not a game of the generals? 

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