WHY, OH WHY: Relief of two police officers ‘puzzles’ PRO-6

Police Brigadier General Rene Pamuspusan, Police Regional Office-6 director, and field commanders lead a press conference at Camp Delgado in Iloilo City Monday. (Jennifer P. Rendon)

By Jennifer P. Rendon

The PNP confirmed on Feb. 7, 2020 the relief of several police lieutenant colonels and their subsequent reassignment to the Office of the Chief PNP (OCPNP).

Two officers affected by the rigodon were from Police Regional Office (PRO)-6 – Police Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido and Lt. Col. Mannan Muarip.

Espenido was the deputy city director for operations of Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) while Muarip headed the Regional Headquarters Support Unit (RHSU)-6 based in Camp Martin Delgado, Iloilo.

Espenido and Muarip were among the 15 police officials relieved by the national headquarters based on Special Order No. 2020-1079 issued by Police Major General Cesar Hawthorne Binag, acting chief of PNP Directorial Staff; and signed by Police Major General Reynaldo Biay, director for Personnel and Records Management of PNP.

PRO-6 received the orders from the PNP national headquarters in Camp Crame on Thursday although it took effect on Feb. 5.

But what triggered the mass relief?

“I, for one, am waiting for the reason of their relief,” Police Brigadier General Rene Pamuspusan, PRO-6 director, said.

Pamuspusan added that he was not told of any reason.

Siguro mas maganda munang alamin muna natin sa (Camp) Crame what is the reason for that order,” Pamuspusan said.

Before receiving the order, the region’s top cop said he was not given verbal information about the relief.

But during a command conference in the national headquarters, “it was mentioned that there would be officers and PNCOs who would be relieved but hanggang doon lang. I cannot speculate on their relief. I can’t assume anything kung ano ang naging rason at bakit sila na-relieve in fairness to these individuals,” Pamuspusan added.

Espenido is a controversial figure in the government’s war against illegal drugs with the deaths of high profile personalities linked to illegal drugs in his previous areas of assignment such as Albuera, Leyte and Ozamiz City in Mindanao.

He was assigned to Bacolod in October 2019 and also headed the City Drug Enforcement Unit (CDEU).

Meanwhile, Police Colonel Henry Biñas, Bacolod City Police chief, noted that BCPO has been a top-performing police office when it comes to illegal drug operations.

“The assignment of Espenido is a great help in Bacolod City and the neighboring cities and towns,” he noted.

Biñas said Espenido’s presence is an addition to their relentless campaign,

“In a way, it might affect because the mere presence of Espenido has a chilling effect on the drug personalities,” he said but he noted that when it comes to performance, other officers and units are serious in the campaign against illegal drugs.