‘Espenido included in drugs watchlist’
MANILA, Philippines — Controversial police officer Lt. Jovie Espenido, whom President Rodrigo Duterte praised for his supposed hard work in the campaign against illegal drugs, is included in the drugs watchlist.
A source privy to the list, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed on Wednesday that Espenido is among the 357 police officers being investigated for their alleged links to the illegal drug trade.
The top leadership of the Philippine National Police (PNP) has yet to confirm this information as of posting time.
The source, however, noted that the list appears to have some loopholes since some of those included in the list were even promoted in recent years despite their alleged involvement in illegal drugs.
Espenido likewise distanced himself from the issue, saying he would only speak once PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa confirms his inclusion in the list.
“Pls tanungin nyo na lang si CPNP. Right after ma-confirm nya, magsasalita na ako (Please just ask the chief of the PNP. If he confirms it, I will speak),” he said in a text message to INQUIRER.net when asked for comment.
PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, meanwhile, refused to confirm the report, saying the list is “strictly held confidential as ordered by PNP chief Gamboa pending result of the validation process.”
Espenido was relieved as deputy director for operations of the Bacolod City Police Office on February 5, but the reason for his removal has not been disclosed.
He declined to reveal the reason for his relief, saying only Gamboa can provide this information.
Espenido was the chief of police in Albuera, Leyte when the then town’s mayor Rolando Espinosa was shot dead inside his detention cell at the Baybay City Provincial Jail in 2016 during the serving of the search warrants on the latter. Later in 2017 when he was transferred as chief of Ozamiz City police, then Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and 14 others linked to the drug trade were also killed in a series of raids.
This earned him praise from Duterte himself, who even told him he was “free to kill everybody” after ordering his transfer to Bacolod City in October 2019.
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