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Espenido’s case, if true, ‘could be one big reason’ why drug war is failing — Lacson

/ 04:31 PM February 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — If true, the inclusion of Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido in President Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called narcolist “ could be one big reason” why the administration’s war against illegal drugs is failing.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, a former chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said this Friday as he recalled his days as Espenido’s superior.

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Lacson issued the remark after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año confirmed that Espenido, one of the poster boys in the implementation of the government’s drug war, was relieved from his post as Bacolod City police chief for his inclusion in the narcolist.

“I have always believed that the real test of the character of public officials like PLt Col Jovie Espenido is power or money. Give them the opportunity to lay their hands on either one or both and they will reveal who they really are,” Lacson said in a text message.

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During their days in the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force, Lacson said that Espenido was someone who was consistent in performing his duties “with integrity and dedication.”

“At least that was how I knew him in the many instances that he faced those challenges. But that time, he was just a non-commissioned officer at the bottom of the salary grade of police personnel,” Lacson said.

“Rising from the ranks, he held several positions of higher authority until his relief recently,” he added.

The senator said that he sent a message to Espenido this morning to ask him one question: “What happened?”

Espenido, however, has yet to reply unlike before when the police officer would even send him bible verses, Lacson said.

“It is a pity because no less than PRRD (President Rodrigo Duterte) took notice of his performance by publicly acknowledging his contribution to the government’s war on illegal drugs, easily making him the poster boy of the campaign,” Lacson said.

“Being his former superior, I hope he can acquit himself and convincingly disprove this very serious allegation against him. Otherwise, he is just one of the many others I personally knew to have succumbed to the pressure,” he added.

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Año said that Espenido “will also undergo validation and possible investigation.”

The interior secretary, however, said that being on the list “does not mean that you are automatically involved in the illegal drug trade.”

“That’s why the PNP chief will relieve all 357 (policemen) on the narcolist and validate them one by one and, if possible, and if there is information or data available, then conduct an investigation,” Año told the Inquirer.

Espenido was involved in the police operation that killed Ozamiz Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr. and 14 others during a drug raid in 2017.

Duterte identified Parojinog as a drug lord.

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TAGS: Drug war, Jovie Espenido
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