Why Jovie Espenido can’t be Iloilo’s chief of police

Rambo Talabong
Why Jovie Espenido can’t be Iloilo’s chief of police
Chief Inspector Espenido is given an officer-in-charge position because his current rank is not in keeping with requirements for a city as big as Iloilo

His appointment was acclaimed and long demanded. The anti-drug President himself assigned the drug war’s model cop to the “most shabulized” province.

Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido is already on his way to Iloilo City, but he cannot be chief of police there.

Why? His rank is too low for a major city like Iloilo.

Jovie Espenido is just a Chief Inspector – two ranks below the minimum requirement.

Rules of the ranks state that a police officer must at least be a Senior Superintendent to qualify to be the city director of a highly urbanized city such as Iloilo. Ozamiz City, Espenido’s previous assignment, is only a component city, allowing him to lead its cops without question.

This provision was set by a 2012 PNP confidential memorandum, National Police Commission (Napolcom) Vice Chairman Rogelio Casurao confirmed to Rappler in a text message.

However, PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa said: “In every rule, there is an exemption.” 

Puwede natin exempt ‘yan for that purpose only dahil presidential directive nga. Meron man pamamaraan dyan (We can exempt him for that purpose only because it’s a presidential directive. There is a means there),” Dela Rosa said in a press conference on Wednesday, August 30, after he was asked by reporters about Espenido’s constraints.

Police skirted the memorandum by assigning Espenido a lower position.

Jovie Espenido: Officer-in-charge

Instead of installing Espenido as the chief of police, he was named the “Officer-in-charge (OIC)” of the Iloilo City Police. He was not even given the designation of acting police chief as that also requires him to be a Senior Superintendent.

With an OIC position, Espenido will not be as free as he was when he headed the police forces of Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental and Albuera, Leyte.

Espenido will not be able to disburse funds for operations he would like to initiate.

He will have to make do with the budget that former Iloilo Police chief Senior Superintendent Zacharias Canieso had asked for.

The other constraint concerns his colleagues. Espenido will not be able to remove or appoint personnel as he wishes. 

He will be surrounded by top Iloilo City police officials appointed by Canieso, the same officers who pointed out that Espenido was not qualified, given his rank, for the job.

Despite the constraints, Espenido remained unfazed. He even threatened the mayor that he would live longer if he would just cooperate when the OIC assumes his new post.

Regards lang. Kita kits tayo,” Espenido said. (Regards. See you.) – Rappler.com

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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.