MANILA - A police officer, whose men were involved in the killings of top drug suspects, has been tapped to lead the force in Iloilo City, which was tagged by President Rodrigo Duterte as a hotbed for the narcotics trade, the national police chief said Wednesday.
Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido was designated officer-in-charge of the Iloilo City police, said Director General Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa. Duterte had described the city as the country's "most shabulized," referring to the suspected magnitude of the shabu trade.
Espenido may be promoted soon so that his rank would suit the position of city police chief, Dela Rosa said.
Espenido got his new assignment after Duterte ordered him to go after Iloilo Mayor Jed Mabilog, who is allegedly connected to the narcotics trade.
Mabilog rejected the accusation and requested for a meeting with the President.
Mabilog welcomed Espenido's deployment to Iloilo, but admitted for his family's safety. The police official said the mayor had nothing to fear if he was not involved in illegal activities.
Espenido was chief of police in Albuera, Leyte when officers conducted a pre-dawn raid in November 2016 that killed Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., who was also on Duterte's drug list.
Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr., whom Duterte also tied to the illegal drug trade, was killed in a police operation last July, just months after Espenido was deployed as Ozamiz police chief. With Henry Atuelan, ABS-CBN News