MANILA—Police officers whose names are on President Rodrigo Duterte's "narco-list" must be "presumed innocent" until proven otherwise, PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa said Saturday
The statement came days after Police Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido, who has been at the forefront of the Duterte's violent campaign against illegal drugs, was revealed to be on the list.
Gamboa said the 357 police officers on the list will be given a chance, as he asked the President for time for the PNP to "validate and evaluate" the implicated lawmen.
"[Just] because they are on the list, [it] is not enough to stand in court, even in administrative proceedings," Gamboa said.
Police officials and personnel on the narco-list are accused of crimes, such as coddling alleged drug lords and pushers, extortion, or illegal gambling.
According to Gamboa, if the information behind the tagging of a police officer isn't true, he will be cleared. If it's true, the PNP will "have to exert effort to build cases against" that officer.
"When you say case build-up, you gather evidence para ma-file-an ng kaso sa korte," Gamboa said.
Espenido has declined to comment on the issue, telling ABS-CBN News to go directly to Gamboa and saying that he would only talk if Gamboa confirms.
A former police chief of Albuera town, Leyte and Ozamiz City, Espenido was earlier removed from his post in Bacolod for undisclosed reasons.
Espenido is known for leading the anti-illegal drugs operation that resulted in the death of Ozamiz mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and his wife in July 2017.
He was also the police chief of Albuera when former mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. was killed inside his jail cell after supposedly engaging policemen who served a search warrant in a firefight.
Duterte will look into Espenido's inclusion on the narco-list, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
“If that (report) is officially received by the Office of the President, the President will investigate,” Panelo said. — With reports from Jennifer Garcia and Raffy Santos, ABS-CBN News