MANILA - Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido, one of President Rodrigo Duterte's key anti-drug enforcers, has been transferred to Catanduanes province from Ozamiz City, the Bicol regional police said Sunday.
National police chief Diretor General Oscar Albayalde ordered Espenido's transfer, but the regional police office has yet to receive word on which department he will head, said Bicol police spokesperson Chief Insp. Luisa Calubaquib.
Espenido, the top cop of Ozamiz City, is currently out of the country and has yet to report for work in Catanduanes, Calubaquib told ABS-CBN News.
The controversial officer was the chief of police in Albuera, Leyte when the town's then-mayor Rolando Espinosa, who was a drug suspect, was shot dead inside his jail cell in 2016.
When Espenido was transferred to Ozamiz the following year, then-Mayor Reynaldo "Aldong" Parojinog and 14 others linked to illegal drugs were killed in a series of pre-dawn raids.
Espenido in 2017 was supposed to be transferred to Iloilo City, where Jed Mabilog, another official on Duterte's list of alleged narco-politicians, is incumbent mayor. The President, however, cancelled the transfer to prevent "demoralizing" Ozamiz residents.
Duterte later gave Espenido an award for "outstanding performance in anti-illegal drug operations that led to the eradication of illegal drug activities in Eastern Visayas and Ozamiz City."
The Bicol police hopes Espenido could solve the narcotics trade in Catanduanes, where a mega-shabu laboratory was discovered in 2016, Calubaquib said.
The raid on the narcotics lab yielded some 22 kilos of shabu and 359 kilos of ephedrine and other chemicals.
Report from Thea Omelan, ABS-CBN News