Duterte: Espenido ‘clean,’ accusations ‘untrue’
MANILA, Philippines —President Rodrigo Duterte believes that Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido is “clean” and his inclusion in the so-called narcolist is only part of “black propaganda” to derail the government’s bloody war on drugs, Malacañang said on Friday.
“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PRRD) believes that Police Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido is clean,” presidential spokesperson and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
“There appears to be a black propaganda waged against Lieutenant Colonel Espenido to besmirch the reputation of the latter in the eyes of PRRD and the Filipino nation, and to derail his unrelenting campaign against illegal drugs,” Panelo said.
The Palace official said Duterte still trusted Espenido, the former police chief of Albuera, Leyte, who became controversial for his hard-hitting campaign against illegal drugs.
But Espenido was relieved on Feb. 5 as deputy director for operations of the Bacolod City police and transferred to the office of the chief of the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
On Thursday, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año confirmed that Espenido was relieved from his post as Bacolod City police chief after he was added to the narcolist of high-profile personalities suspected of involvement in the illegal drug trade.
Panelo said Espenido “continues to enjoy the trust and confidence of the President.”
“PRRD believes that the reports of his alleged involvement in prohibited drugs are untrue,” he added.
“Natawa lang ako (I just laughed),” Espenido said when he learned he was among the policemen on the President’s narcolist.
In a text message to the Inquirer, Espenido said he was just waiting for orders from the higher-ups.
Espenido said he did not have any plans yet to talk to Duterte to clear his name.
“I cannot afford to do that. Only the President will, if he wants to talk to me,” he said.
Espenido also masterminded the anti-drug operation that led to the death of Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and 14 others in 2017.
He was the head of the Albuera town police when Mayor Rolando Espinosa, an alleged drug lord, was killed by policemen while serving a search warrant inside his detention cell in 2016.
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