MANILA - The reported inclusion of Police Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido in a drug watch list appears to be part of a “black propaganda” against the officer who has been linked to the killing of drug-linked politicians, Malacañang claimed Friday.
President Rodrigo Duterte thinks the reported links of Espenido to drugs are “untrue,” his spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte believes that Police Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido is clean,” Panelo said.
“[The President] believes that the reports of his alleged involvement in prohibited drugs are untrue,” he added.
Espenido was revealed to be among those on Duterte’s narco-list earlier this week, in a surprising discovery after the police force reopened its investigation on persons on the roster.
He is known for leading the anti-illegal drugs operation that resulted in the death of Ozamiz mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and his wife.
He was also the police chief of Albuera town when former mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. was killed in his jail cell after supposedly engaging policemen who served a search warrant in a firefight.
Recently, Espenido was relieved as deputy chief for operations of the Bacolod City Police, and was instead reassigned to the Office of the Philippine National Police chief.
Malacañang said reports of Espenido’s supposed involvement in illegal drugs were part of efforts to ruin his reputation and “to derail his unrelenting campaign against illegal drugs.”
Despite this, the Palace assured the police official of the President’s trust.
“Lt. Col. Espenido continues to enjoy the trust and confidence of the President,” Panelo said.