Narco-pols warned: Resign or die

Ozamiz City Police Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido

OZAMIS CITY — Local politicians involved in illegal drugs should resign if they would still want to live longer, controversial Ozamiz City Police Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido said Thursday.

Espenido, scheduled to be given new area of assignment, vowed to continue to perform his duties and comply with the orders of his superiors.

When asked about his message to those involved in illegal drugs where he would be assigned next, Espenido replied: “They should resign if they are involved.”

Espenido conducted an operation that resulted in the death of Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr. and 14 others, including other members of Parojinog’s family.

The Parojinogs were among the local officials earlier tagged by President Rodrigo Duterte in the country’s illegal drug operations, which started soon as Duterte took his oath as President.

In related developments:

The country’s drug problem cannot be fixed by a single president in a one term, Duterte admitted Wednesday night. 

Duterte said ending the country’s drug problem might not be solved entirely during his term—despite his earlier vow during the campaign to end it within “3 to 6 months” from which he later eventually backtracked. 

“Look, these shabu and drugs problems…cannot be solved by one man or a president for one term,” the President said in a speech before business leaders at the “Sulong Pilipinas” Philippine Development Forum at Mandaluyong City. 

Malacañang, however, in defense of Duterte, denied that it was an admission of defeat. 

“It is not an admission of failure. It is an admission of the depth, the breadth and complexity of the problem especially considering the fact that he has also said that it was only after he became President that he realized the—how widespread narco-politics had become,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said. 

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II  said the Department of Justice might use self-confessed drug trader Rolan “Kerwin” Espinosa as a state witness against alleged drug lord Peter Lim and the other respondents in the criminal case pending before it. 

Aguirre stressed Espinosa might be discharged as an accused in the criminal case and instead utilize him as state witness, only if his testimony would be vital in the prosecution and conviction of the other principal accused.

“The inclusion of Kerwin Espinosa in the criminal case, in the drug offense, can be discharged before the actual trial or even during the trial of the case. It is procedural in nature that he should be charged first and be discharged later as a state witness,” Aguirre said in an interview.

In defending his bloody drug war, Duterte said even the United States was not “drug-free.”

“It [the drugs problem] has bugged nations. America is under siege because of drugs. And they are far worse than us. They do not admit it. [But] until now, I said, they’re fighting a useless war there that never ends. And the sad part of it is that most of the drugs are provided by their good neighbors,” he said.

Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, however, said that since the administration had intensified its anti-drug efforts, the local drug industry had suffered losses of up to P500 billion over the past year. With John Paolo Bencito and Joel Zurbano.

In his speech during the 116th Police Service Anniversary, Dela Rosa said the current street value was now only at  P5,000 per gram of shabu, and that 1,309,776 drug suspects had  surrendered.

“Based on the daily consumption estimate of the 1.3 million surrenderers at 200 milligrams for every user,  there was a demand reduction of 85,589 kilos,” the police chief said. 

“This translates to losses of about  P500 billion to drug traffickers,” he added, saying a total 86,030 drug suspects had been arrested and 3,264 killed within Duterte’s first year. 

Aguirre admitted the decision lay with the handling prosecutors once they have reviewed the evidence.

The DoJ chief said he could not say yet what testimony of Espinosa would be of value to the prosecution.

“I just would like to say that I don’t want to go and state my definite decision on this because I might be the one to be called to make the final judgment. I’d better not answer that,’ he stressed.

The DoJ has summoned Espinosa, Lim, Peter Co, Marcelo Adorco, Max Miro, Jun Pepito, Rupel Malindanangan and Lovely Impal to attend the preliminary investigation of the case on Aug. 14.

The DoJ assigned Assistant State Prosecutors John Michael Humarang and Aristotle Reyes to handle the preliminary probe of the case for violation of Section 26 (b) of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

The offense pertained to the “sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals.”

The complaint filed by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group tagged Lim as the alleged supplier of illegal drugs to the group of Espinosa.

Meanwhile, the National Capital Region Police Office has been awarded for the accomplishments it made in connection with the government’s anti-crime campaign, especially the crackdown on drug trade and its use in Metro Manila.

NCRPO chief Oscar Albayalde received the Special Unit Awards on the Accounting of Illegal Drugs Personnel during the 116th Police Service Anniversary at Camp Crame, Quezon City on Aug. 9.

The award was given in recognition to the relentless efforts of the Team NCRPO in accordance to the marching order of Duterte and Dela Rosa to wage war against illegal drugs and criminality