Espenido, one of Duterte’s favorite cops, included in list of alleged drug traders, Interior Dept confirms

Lieutenant Colonel Jovie Espenido and President Rodrigo Duterte. <i>Photo: Radio Television Malacañang video/George Calvelo of ABS-CBN News</i>
Lieutenant Colonel Jovie Espenido and President Rodrigo Duterte. Photo: Radio Television Malacañang video/George Calvelo of ABS-CBN News

Remember when President Rodrigo Duterte publicly praised cop Jovie Espenido, whom he told to “kill everybody” involved in the drug trade in Bacolod City? You know, the Espenido who famously led the raids that killed members of the Parojinog family in Ozamiz City, the clan Duterte had accused of being drug dealers in 2017.

Well, this is slightly embarrassing: Espenido’s name has now turned up on Duterte’s list of cops who are allegedly involved in the drug trade, a fact confirmed today by Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año.

Año, who is responsible for overseeing the police force, told reporters in a text message that Espenido “will also undergo validation and possible investigation” to see if he really is involved in the drug trade, which he has been fighting publicly since Duterte became president.

Read: Who are the Parojinogs of Ozamiz?

Secretary Año said that being included in Duterte’s list does not mean someone is automatically involved in drugs — which isn’t surprising, given that the lists are made by the president without citing any evidence or basis.

“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,” he said.

Rappler first broke the story of Espenido’s inclusion in Duterte’s list on Wednesday, but when asked if there was any truth to the report, Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Archie Gamboa said he was “insulted” by the whole controversy, and refused to confirm or deny it.

Read: Parojinog Jr., scion of political family, gets life for illegal drug possession

Espenido is a controversial figure because of his bloody career history. He was the former police chief of Ozamiz City where he led the bloody multiple raids on the properties of then-Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog in August of 2017. The mayor and 15 other people were killed in the raids, including his wife, Susan Parojinog. After the bloodbath, Duterte even threatened the remaining members of the family that they would be “wipe[d] off from the face of the earth.”

Prior to being assigned to Ozamiz City, Espenido was the chief of police of Albuera town, in Leyte. It was during his assignment there that Rolando Espinosa Sr., then the town mayor, was killed in November of 2016 by policemen while he was being detained in a cell. Cops insisted that they had to kill Espinosa because he engaged them in a gunfight. 

Meanwhile, Gamboa has since confirmed to the media that he met the 357 cops included in Duterte’s list on Monday and told them to avail of early retirement if they knew that they were guilty of drug dealing.

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