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Iron-fisted cop Espenido not transferring to Iloilo soon

President Rodrigo Duterte pins a medal on Ozamiz City police chief Jovie Espenido during the 116th anniversary of the police service at Camp Crame. The STAR/Krizjohn Rosales, file

MANILA, Philippines — It was no less than President Rodrigo Duterte who withdrew the reassignment of Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido, once touted as "most requested" cop, to Iloilo, Philippine Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa admitted Monday.

Espenido earned the reputation for eliminating alleged "narco-politicians" after Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa and Ozamis City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog were killed in separate police operations, both during his time as head of police.

Dela Rosa said the president just responded to requests of Ozamis City residents to retain Espenido as the chief of city police.

"Si presidente mismo ang nagbigay ng instruction na huwag nang ituloy dahil nga baka ma-demoralize mga tao sa Ozamis kung tanggalin natin si Espenido doon," the nation's top cop said at a press briefing at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

"May balita nga na baka mag people power 'pag tinanggal doon si Espenido. Kaya nagbago isip ni presidente sabi niya pag bigyan muna natin ang nga taga Ozamis, 'wag muna natin alisin si Espendio doon," he added.

READ: Espenido transfer to Iloilo cancelled

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Dela Rosa clarified that the issue with Espenido being under ranked has nothing to do with the cancelation of his transfer to Iloilo City which requires a senior superintendent position.

He said the PNP's policy can adjust to the directive of the president even if Espenido is two ranks lower than the requirement. He was about to be placed as officer-in-charge of the Iloilo City Police Office.

The PNP chief said that the deferment of Espenido's assignment was already issued even before the death of Richard Prevendido, believed to be the Western Visayas top drug lord.

Just last month, his efforts in Duterte's deadly campaign against illegal drugs were recognized with a service award.

Dela Rosa said it is he is in favor of Espenido's prolonged stay in Ozamis City where supposed security problems are supposedly yet to be addressed.

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