INTERIOR and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said on Sunday, February 16, that the trust and confidence bestowed by President Rodrigo Duterte to embattled Lieutenant Colonel Jovie Espenido is a “big factor” in the conduct of adjudication over his alleged involvement on illegal drugs trade.
“Well malaking bagay ‘yung binitawan ng Pangulo at ito sabi ko nga sa iyo ang final authority to approve sa pagtanggal ng listahan ay ang pangulo so malaking factor yan,” Año said when asked if the conduct of adjudication may be disregarded by Duterte’s statement in favor of Espenido.
Año, however, said the information against Espenido and the 356 other policemen which came from different law enforcement and intelligence agencies of the government should be looked into.
He believes that such information is not baseless.
“Pero syempre kailangan mo idaan pa rin sa proseso para if dumating na ‘yung panahon halimbawa na ibang administrasyon na umulit na naman ‘yung issue, ang sasabihin ay dumaan yan sa proseso ay hindi lang dahil sinabi ng pangulo. So ito rin naman ay para din sa advantage ni Colonel Espenido balang araw,” said Año.
Earlier, Año admitted that Espenido is one of the 357 policemen whose alleged involvement on illegal drugs operation is under verification.
Meanwhile, in a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte believed that Espenido is clean.
“There appears to be a black propaganda waged against Lt. Col. 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 in the statement.
“Lt. Col. 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.
Espenido had been repeatedly receiving a tap on the shoulder from Duterte for leading operations against alleged high-valued drug personalities in line with the administration’s drugs war.
Espenido was the police chief of Albuera town in Leyte when its mayor, Rolando Espinosa, was shot dead inside his detention cell in Baybay City, also in Leyte, in November 2016.
Criminal Investigation and Detection Group agents claimed that Espinosa resisted when they served a search warrant for illegal firearms in his detention cell.
Espenido was then assigned to Ozamiz City in Misamis Occidental where he led the raid in the properties of the city mayor, Reynaldo Parojinog, in July 2017.
The mayor, his wife and 13 others were killed while his son Reynaldo Jr and the Ozamiz City Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog were arrested and were charged over illegal drugs.
Both Espinosa and Parojinog were tagged as narco-politicians and were on Duterte's watchlist.