Dela Rosa: Espenido should be in Ozamiz, not Iloilo

Rambo Talabong
Dela Rosa: Espenido should be in Ozamiz, not Iloilo


Top cop Ronald dela Rosa says Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido has not finished his job in Ozamiz City

MANILA, Philippines – If Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa had his way, Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido would still be in Ozamiz City to finish the cleanup against crime there.

The top cop made the statement in a news briefing on Wednesday, August 30, when asked whether he preferred Espenido to remain in Ozamiz City or to be reassigned – as ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte – to Iloilo City.

“If I had my way, I would prefer him to stay in Ozamiz para matapos ang problema doon. Kung mararapat, mas maganda nga doon muna siya (to finish the problem there. If possible, it would be better if he remained there for the meantime),” Dela Rosa said, referring to drugs and criminality in the city.

Duterte had announced the transfer of Espenido to Iloilo City, weeks after the police officer led a raid on the home of Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog. The operation led to the death of the mayor, his wife, and 13 others. (READ: TIMELINE: Parojinog, from Duterte’s narco list to a bloody raid)

The PNP chief, who only learned about Espenido’s transfer on the morning that Duterte announced it, said on Wednesday he would relay his concerns to the Chief Executive.

Na kay President na (It’s with the President). He will decide. ‘Yun nga lang, ipaparating ko ‘yung mga concerns na ‘yan (Even so, I’ll relay my concerns to him),” Dela Rosa added.

Dela Rosa said that while the police caught a big fish in Ozamiz, Espenido had not yet completely cleansed the city. This had prompted locals to “protest” his transfer.

Mahirap din. You will be left hanging after of the incident, and hindi pa totally nagstabilize yung sitwasyon ng Ozamiz nong tanggalin siya doon, (It’s also hard for them. You will be left hanging after the incident, and the situation has not completely stabilized in Ozamiz when [Espenido] was removed),” Dela Rosa said.

Can Iloilo wait?

The top cop also downplayed the drug and crime situation in Iloilo City, and even lauded Mayor Jed Mabilog, an official included in Duterte’s  drug list, for “trying his best” to fight illegal drugs in his city.

“‘Yung sitwasyon sa Iloilo, ‘yung nakikita ko rin naman na inaamin naman ni Mayor Jed Mabilog na napabayaan niya ‘yung problema, hindi niya na-address. But right now, nakikita ko rin naman na nagsusumikap siya sa campaign sa Iloilo City. Nakikita ko na nagsusumikap din siya,” Dela Rosa said.

(The situation in Iloilo, what I can see is that Mayor Jed Mabilog admitted that he neglected to solve the problem, he was not able to address it. But now, I can see that he’s trying his best in the campaign [against illegal drugs] in Iloilo City. I can see that he’s trying his best.)

According to Duterte, Mabilog is a protector of drug lords in the region, a claim that the mayor had repeatedly denied.

Dela Rosa had earlier come to Mabilog’s defense, saying that the mayor no longer had anyone to protect as alleged drug lord Melvin Odicta was gunned down in late 2016. –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.