Fear for his life understandable
Police Col. Jovie Espenido, who is included on President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug watch list, has a valid reason to fear for his life, Malacañang said on Friday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo reiterated that Espenido can avail of government protection if he feels his safety would be at risk after being tagged as among the 375 policemen involved in illegal drugs.
“There must be some reasons for him saying that. And I said, like any ordinary citizen, he can ask the government to protect him from any attempt against his life,” he said in an interview with ANC Philippines.
Espenido, the police officer who rose to fame after leading anti-drug operations against narco-politicians, has been accused of being involved in illegal drugs.
Panelo, however, said Espenido still enjoys Duterte’s trust and confidence since there is still no evidence that can prove his supposed links to unlawful narcotics trade.
He said Duterte remains convinced that Espenido is merely a victim of “black propaganda.”
He said Duterte would only change his stance if there is proof that Espenido is indeed involved in the illegal drugs.
“Even if the President trusts you personally, but you submit proof to him otherwise, ibang usapan iyan, ipu-prosecute ka ni Presidente (that’s another issue. The President will prosecute you),” Panelo said.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año earlier confirmed that Espenido is on narco-list but stressed that the latter remains innocent until proven guilty.
Espenido was relieved from his post as deputy director for operations of the Bacolod City Police Office on Feb. 5.
He has been transferred to the Office of the Philippine National Police chief three weeks after he led the anti-drug operations in Banago village in Bacolod City.
Panelo said Duterte has no plan to dismiss Espenido.
“Espenido is there,” he said. “Alam mo kapag ang isang police officer, naka-stuck ka sa isang posisyon, hindi ka mapu-promote. Talagang dapat talagang ililipat-lipat ka (When a police officer is stuck in one position, he will not get promoted. So it’s necessary for him to undergo reshuffling).”
Espenido earlier denied the allegations hurled against him.
He also suspected that intelligence information about his supposed links to illegal drugs was made by politicians who are attempting to get back at him.
Espenido was the police chief of Albuera, Leyte when the town’s mayor, Rolando Espinosa Sr., was killed in his detention cell in 2016. He was also the chief of police of Ozamiz, Misamis Occidental when the city mayor, Reynaldo Parojinog, was killed in anti-drug operation in 2017.
Duterte awarded Espenido in 2016 for the latter’s contributions to the government’s anti-narcotics drive. (PNA)