MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the request of Ozamiz City police head Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido to be reassigned to Iloilo, hinting that the administration’s war on drug’s campaign would be intensified in the city, which the chief executive earlier described as the “most shabulized” area in the country.
“Your next assignment is Iloilo,” Duterte told Espenido on Monday, August 28, during the celebration of National Heroes Day.
The President cut his speech for the occasion and looked for the police officer and then asked him if Iloilo Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog would remain alive if Espenido starts his work in the city.
“Espenido where are you? I will ask you again, you asked for the assignment sa [in] Leyte, namatay ang mayor doon [the mayor there died]. You ask for another assignment sa [in] Ozamiz, namatay ang mayor doon [the mayor there died],” said Duterte.
“Ngayon, gusto mo doon sa Iloilo kasi si Mabilog has been identified as a protector-mayor. Mabuhay kaya s’ya? Gusto ko lang tanungin kasi ako naman ang pagbibintangan,” he added.
[Now, you want to be there in Iloilo because Mabilog is identified as a protector-mayor. Will he survive? I want to ask because I might be the one blamed.]
Espenido was the police chief of Albuera town in Leyte when suspected drug lord Mayor Rolando Espinosa was killed by authorities on November 5, 2016 inside his detention cell.
In December 2016, Espenido was transferred to Ozamiz and seven months later, on July 30 this year, Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog, and 15 others were killed by police in a predawn drug raid.
In August 2016, Duterte said Iloilo City was among the country’s worst places because many of the local chief executives, police officers, and judges there were allegedly involved in illegal drug activities.
“Ang Iloilo grabe talaga,” the President said during a speech in Davao, claiming Iloilo City is the country’s “most shabulized” area.
He said while he was campaigning last year, Iloilo residents already sought his help in addressing the city’s serious narcotics problem.
“Lahat nga tao doon [Iloilo] sinasabi, ‘Mayor, ang droga. Kung maari tulungan mo kami dito’,” Duterte said.
Mabilog, a cousin of Drilon, in Duterte’s narcolist
Mabilog is among the eight incumbent mayors in the Visayas who remain in the President’s list of personalities allegedly involved in narcotics trade.
The Iloilo mayor denied having links with drug traders.
“I can categorically say that I am not involved in the protection, trade, and use of illegal drugs. I am willing to open myself for any investigation, cooperate and submit myself to any court of law,” said Mabilog in August 2016.
Last February, Duterte claimed that Mabilog “is the cousin” of opposition Senator Franklin Drilon.
Drilon earlier admitted that he was related by blood to Mabilog.
In April 2010, Drilon, campaigned for Mabilog’s mayoral bid.
“Jed is my second cousin. He is a good leader. Otherwise, I would not have allowed him to run and embarrass our family,” Drilon was quoted in a news report as saying.
‘You are free to kill the idiots’
On Monday, Duterte told Espenido that, “If you do the country a favor, I will support you. And..we’ll all go to jail, do not worry.”
“Just follow the rules of engagement, the requirements of the performance of duty, which you have learned in your PNP…Murder and homicide or whatever unlawful killing is not allowed,” the President further told the police officer.
Duterte repeated to Espenido that he and his men could take suspects under their custody, but if the latter resist arrest, authorities could eliminate them.
“But in the performance of your duty, tell your men that whenever their life is in danger and they are in the actual performance of a duty, your duty requires you to overcome the resistance of the person you’re arresting, not only just shouting at him to surrender,” he said.
“Because…if he resists and it is a violent one, place him in jeopardy…You are free to kill the idiots. That is my order to you,” said Duterte
“Always in the performance of a duty. Because if there is violence, then you have to overcome that violence to bring him to the folds of the law and you can put him under your custody. But if he resists and if it is a violent one, I hate to see dead policemen, and soldiers performing their duties,” the President added.