Cops in ‘narcolist’ to face Duterte’s judgment next month
MANILA, Philippines — The fate of the 356 police officers in the so-called “narcolist” will be decided upon soon as the Philippine National Police (PNP) prepares to submit its recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte on March 5.
PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa said Wednesday that the adjudication process for the police officers has already started.
“We will be having a joint command conference with the President and the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) on March 5 and I intend to submit my recommendation on March 5,” he said.
“As a matter of fact, there’s an initial recommendation, but of course this will be contained in the final recommendation they (adjudicating units) are going to make,” he added.
As for Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido, Gamboa remained mum and insisted that the validation on his alleged involvement in illegal drugs be kept an internal matter within the PNP.
“Regarding Col. Espenido, leave it to us. It’s purely an internal issue. I will deal with Espenido squarely as the chief PNP and he being a member of the PNP,” he said.
Espenido became controversial for the deaths of then-Mayor Rolando Espinosa of Albuera, Leyte, during the service of search warrants in his detention cell in 2016, and then-Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog of Ozamiz City in a drug raid in 2017. He was the police chief in these areas when the two local chief executives, tagged as “narco-politicians,” died in police operations.
Gamboa said he issued a gag order, or a directive to restrict information from being made public, to the police officers in the watchlist. He added this was a “general instruction.”
But just moments before Gamboa entertained an interview with reporters at Camp Crame, Espenido held a press conference at the Bacolod City Police Office, denying he has been in cahoots with drug traders and asserting big-time anti-drug operations he led.
Asked if this will be considered insubordination, Gamboa said: “Not yet, that’s why he will be investigated.”
Asked categorically if that will be considered a violation of his order, the PNP chief added: “That’s jumping into conclusion. Next topic please.”
Meanwhile, Gamboa announced that the number of police officers in the drugs watchlist who have gone absent without official leave (AWOL) has been lowered from the original 43 to 19.
“Ito talaga ‘yung mga hindi nagpakita [These are the ones who really did not show up]. But the balance of the 43 minus 19, I told them, look, the only excuse they are going to have is when they cannot present a medical certificate that they have been admitted [to a hospital] or not,” he said.
“Nevertheless we are going back to the 43 for them to be marked AWOL and be investigated,” he added.
Originally, there were 357 police officers in the watchlist but this was reduced to 356 after one of them was shot dead “two to three days” before Gamboa disclosed that they were in the list.
Edited by JPV
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