Ozamiz Professionals oppose the return of EspenidoPosted on
OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. DUTERTE
“Listen to the real voices of Ozamiznons”
Dear President Duterte:
Thank you for your continuing keen interest on developments in Ozamiz City, mainly as a result of your drive to wipe out the machinery for illicit drug trading that was so entrenched in our city prior to your incumbency as President. Such gesture is an assurance we can now fully transition to normalcy, especially furthering the process of reforming local governance.
We, professionals in various fields who practice our craft in and outside Ozamiz, are writing to express our deep concern about your recent decision for Chief Insp. Jovie R. Espenido to take back the reins of the city police station. We are worried that with Espenido back in Ozamiz, the path of change and reform could be hampered.
In less than two months after Espenido was relieved from his post in Ozamiz, the city fast transitioned from an undue reign of police terror to normalcy.
Mr. President, you were misled into thinking that crime incidence was on the rise after Espenido left Ozamiz City to a new assignment. The report rendered by Chief Insp. ALEXY SONIDO, OIC Chief of Police, during the November 29 City Peace and Order Council meeting showed otherwise; crime incidence continued to be on the decline.
Yes, the remnants of the Parojinog syndicate are still there, but there are only a handful left of its criminal workhorse, thanks to the previous efforts of Espenido. If Espenido has contributed to cleansing our city of the dreaded crime group, why do we detest having him back?
Firstly, Espenido has been in cahoots with the political plans of Misamis Occidental Rep. Henry S. Oaminal, the chief author of the idea of Espenido’s return to Ozamiz. This unraveled during the 2018 Barangay and SK Elections last May in which Espenido openly admitted to have closed his eyes to Oaminal’s vote-buying activities which became apparent to the local news media. As a cover-up, Espenido branded the opponents of Oaminal’s candidates as remnants of the Parojinog syndicate.
Mr. President, on Nov. 28 when you visited Ozamiz, Oaminal assembled a hakot crowd rehearsed to applaud him upon delivering his deceptive plea for Espenido’s return to Ozamiz. We know that you also detest the idea of the police used as instrument for partisan politics which can happen if Espenido is back in Ozamiz.
Secondly, there have been many tales of Espenido’s string of corruption, using law enforcement operations to exact bribes and payoffs from crime suspects like alleged drug couriers, drug peddlers and drug users, and even individuals engaged in petty offenses such as gambling. Prior to being detained, they are asked to pay some amount in order to be ‘bailed out.’ According to individuals who fell prey to this practice, the asking price starts at P10,000. Please have the country’s police leadership look into this, Mr. President.
Those who called out this corrupt practice are unduly tagged as Parojinog protectors and allies, some of whom eventually faced trumped up charges of being shabu traders.
Thirdly, Espenido has been torturing innocent civilians while in detention, probably to exact information or to have them confess to a crime. One teenager died because of this. In fear, the parents have kept mum about the incident.
Fourthly, there have been numerous incidents of evidence-planting involving innocent individuals. These have the temporary effect of bloating law enforcement performance but when filed in court, the cases are weak and stand little chance of convicting even known criminal personalities.
Prior to Espenido’s departure from the city, there is already growing fear and insecurity in the city regarding police conduct. We were no longer safe in the company of police officers and operatives, fearing that we can be the target of extortion by them and hence be arrested for unknown reasons. Even local lawyers have cowered in fear of the police. This is not the kind of change and reform we wanted pursued in our city, Mr. President.
We heaved a sigh of relief when Espenido was gone. So please, Mr. President, spare Ozamiz City from another episode of terror.
Mr. President, if you think there is a need to reinforce current police efforts against the remnants of the Parojinog syndicate, bring in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) into our city. That is perfectly justified under the current state of Martial Law imposed throughout Mindanao.
(Sgd) DARWIN A. AGUIRRE
Concerned Ozamiz Professionals (COPs)