By: Aaron B. Recuenco
Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido, Ozamiz City police chief, will receive an award during the Police Service Anniversary tomorrow for his accomplishments in the anti-drugs campaign in Albuera, Leyte and Ozamiz.
Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald M. dela Rosa defended Espenido from allegations that he received bribes from suspected Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, the son of slain Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa.
“The award is for his accomplishments in Albuera and Ozamiz. The drug activities in Ozamiz for instance significantly dropped under his leadership,” said Dela Rosa.
Dela Rosa said Espenido’s award was not in connection with the bloody operation against the Parojinog family in Ozamiz in which 16 persons were killed. “He was already included in the list of awardees even before the Ozamiz City operation,” said Dela Rosa.
Espenido became the one of the popular faces of the Duterte administration’s anti-drugs war after the fall of Mayor Espinosa and Ozamiz Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog who were tied to the illegal drugs trade.
Kerwin has tagged Espenido as one of the recipients of drugs payola from him during the congressional hearings last year.
But Dela Rosa said Kerwin retracted his statement when he had a heart-to-heart talk with him. “He (Kerwin) told me that he just implicated Espenido due to anger. But in reality, he said, Espenido is not on a take,” said Dela Rosa.
“In fact, Espenido would just send him Bible verses every time he would invite him to get the money. Meaning, he (Espenido) was declining the money,” he added.