MANILA - Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido, former police chief of Albuera, Leyte, believes the election of Rodrigo Duterte as president of the Philippines is an act of God.
In an exclusive interview with ANC's Headstart aired Friday, the now-Ozamiz City top cop said he understands why Duterte continues to support police officers such as Supt. Marvin Marcos who led the police raid that killed Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. last November 05, 2016.
"Nagsabi nga ako, there is divine intervention sa paglagay ng Presidente natin doon. I understand kasi sa kaniya, siya ang head of the state. Tinitingnan niya na yung kabuuan na talaga ma-inspire saka willing yung mga tauhan nila, mga pulis na magtrabaho nang tao," said Espenido.
President Duterte earlier said he would pardon the policemen involved in the controversial raid inside a Leyte jail that killed Mayor Espinosa.
“Na-convict kayo? O sige i-convict mo walang problema ‘yan. But I’m giving you advanced notice: the Constitution says the president can pardon a criminal, either conditional or absolute,” Duterte said in a speech during the celebration of the 116th founding anniversary of the police service.
The cops, led by Supt. Marvin Marcos, are facing homicide charges over the death of the mayor inside his cell at the Baybay City Sub-Provincial Jail in November 2016.
Duterte, meanwhile, gave Espenido a special individual award for his “outstanding performance in anti-illegal drug operations that led to the eradication of illegal drug activities in Eastern Visayas and Ozamiz City.”
He received the award during the 116th anniversary of the police service. Several other officers were also given awards for their service.
Espenido's stint as local chief of police in Albuera and Ozamiz City saw the death of two alleged “narco-politicians,” Espinosa and Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr.
ESPINOSA KILLING IRKED COP CHIEF
Espenido said he was initially angered when he heard that Espinosa was killed by Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) agents in the Baybay Sub-provincial jail last November 05, 2016.
Police confirmed the raid was carried out at around 4 a.m.
"Nagalit na ako nang una kasi witness ko na yan. Paano yung mga kaso natin? Na na-file na kaso? Alam naman natin sa gobyerno natin sa Pilipinas, kung patay yung witness, wala na rin. Malabo na rin yung kaso natin," he said.
Espinosa, who was among the politicians with alleged links to the drug trade, and inmate Raul Yap were killed when they supposedly shot at the police while being served a search warrant by Supt. Marvin Marcos and his men.
However, Espenido, who has since been reassigned to Ozamiz City, does not believe the police team's claim.
"Inako naman nila, pero hindi ako (nag-)believe na totoong may sala si Mayor. Sa akin lang. Pulis tayo, pero sa ganung pangyayari, wala tayong magawa kasi nandoon na. Pero sa akin sana, hindi dapat," he said.
After public hearings last year until early this year, two Senate panels said Espinosa's killing was "premeditated" by the police to cover up their involvement in the illegal drug activities of the mayor.
The National Bureau of Investigation came up with a similar report.
Recently however, the Department of Justice resolved the petition for review and downgraded the charges against police officers to homicide from murder. They have been subsequently reinstated into service.
Marcos has now been named officer-in-charge of CIDG in the Soccsksargen region.