By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) deputy director, Police Lt. Colonel Jovie Espenido, is back on duty after spending over a month on leave. In an interview with Aksyon Radyo-Bacolod, the law enforcement official said he is ready to implement his plans in order to solve the city’s illegal drugs problem and ordered local drug groups to stop their illegal activities immediately.
Espenido said his office welcomes drug groups leaders who are willing to surrender and assist the government in eliminating the problem. However, if met with resistance by drug groups in the city, he affirmed he would not hesitate in making arrests.
The BCPO official also identified the drug groups he said must surrender—namely, the Berya, Kamaria, Ramos, and Cuadra groups—and, pointed out, there are also several members of the local Muslim community who are “heavily-involved” in the illicit trade.
He added, surrenders would allow authorities to verify links between the illegal drug trade and various local politicians.
Last October, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the reassignment of Espenido to Bacolod City stating the locality had been “badly hit” by illegal drugs.
“Bacolod is badly hit now and I placed Espenido there, ‘yung kinatakutan nila na pulis (Bacolod City is badly hit right now and I place Espenido there to have the police intimidate them),” he stated. “Sabi ko, ‘Go there and you are free to kill everybody.’ T*** ina (I said, ‘Go there and you are free to kill everybody’ [Expletive]).”
In addition, earlier this month, according to Police Regional Office-6 data, over 75 percent of the total number of high-value drug targets in the region are in Bacolod City and across Negros Occidental. The agency noted, out of the current 105 targets, 50 are said to be located within Negros Occidental, along with 32 in Bacolod City.
Aside from serving as BCPO deputy director, he was also assigned to head the City Drug Enforcement Unit.
The law enforcement official previously made headlines following high-profile deaths in jurisdictions he led, including Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog in 2017 and Rolando Espinosa, mayor of Albuera, Leyte, in 2016.
Both were allegedly involved with illegal drug activity.
Espenido was previously considered for Iloilo City police chief in 2017, when former Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog was still in office./DGB, WDJ