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Espenido: Government could go after me

Pushed against the wall with his inclusion in President Rodrigo Duterte’s drugs watchlist, beleaguered Police Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido told an interview in Cebu the “government” could go after him and kill him.

At the same time, following his statement there was a failure of intelligence on the drugs watchlist, PNP chief Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa said the issue would be investigated, saying that was an internal matter to the national police command.

“There would be no other entity that would kill me. It would be the government, the police,” he said in Bisaya in the interview with radio dyHP in Cebu City on Tuesday morning, heard in some parts of the country.

Espenido was among 357 police officers on the President’s drugs watchlist. 

He reported to Camp Crame, the Philippine National Police headquarters, after he was relieved from his post as Bacolod City Police deputy director for operations and head of the City Drug Enforcement Unit last Feb. 7.

Espenido said there were drug lords planning to kill him.

Gamboa told a news briefing: “Regarding Colonel Espenido, leave it to us. It’s purely an internal issue, I will deal with Espenido squarely as the chief PNP and he being a member of the PNP.” 

According to Gamboa, it is a general instruction for the policemen included in the drug watch list to remain silent on the issue pending validation.

Asked if what Espenido did was a defiance of authority, Gamboa said: “Not yet. That’s why he will be investigated.”

Meanwhile, former mayor Nova Princess Parojinog of Ozamiz City is seeking the acquittal of the cases of  illegal possession of drug and firearms filed against her before the Quezon City courts.

Parojinog’s lawyers filed a demurrer to evidence for each of the two cases, asking the courts to clear her name of the criminal charges for supposed insufficiency of prosecution evidence.

The accused also filed a response, opposing a motion filed by the prosecution to transfer her from Camp Crame to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City.

She is facing illegal possession of drugs and firearms before Branch 228 and 95, respectively.

Through her legal counsel, Parojinog said the charges should be dismissed “not because of any failure on the part of the prosecution to present but rather due to the testimonies and credibility of the police witnesses being inherently weak.”

“The truth of the matter is that the police witnesses are simply incapable of proving the charges filed against the accused because their version of the events of the implementation of the search warrant in the accused’s (sic) house reeks of a cover-up and set-up rolled into one, and is replete with utter falsities--all of which have been repeatedly pointed out by the accused in this demurrer,” the twin motion read.

Authorities arrested Parojinog inside their home in Ozamiz City in July 2017, during which her father, then-Mayor Reynadlo Parojinog Sr., mother Susan, brother Octavio, sister Mona and several others were killed.

Parojinog’s brother, Reynaldo Jr., was also nabbed, and was meted out 40 years of jail term in 2019 for illegal possession of drugs. 

Nearly three years ago, at dawn of Sunday, July 30, 2017, Criminal Investigation and Detection group and the Ozamiz City police conducted a simultaneous raid in the house of the Parojinogs in Ozamiz and other associated properties, leaving 15 persons killed including incumbent Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and his wife. 

Another member of the Parojinog family died in the hospital three days after the raid. 

Parojinog was the third mayor to be killed during the country’s war on drugs after Rolando Espinosa of Albuera, Leyte eight months prior and Samsudin Dimaukom of Datu Saudi-Ampatuan, Maguindanao nine months before.

Espenido said he was not worried about himself, and he announced during the radio interview that he would be an easy target as he often did not carry a firearm with him.

Espenido believed his name’s inclusion in the President’s narco-list stemmed from a picture that showed him in the company of then mayor Espinosa and Espinosa’s lawyer Rogelio Bato Jr. inside a restaurant in Ormoc City. 

The meeting took place before the deaths of Bato and Espinosa in 2016, and when Espenido was still the Albuera police chief.

Espinosa is the father of Kerwin, who according to authorities had been Eastern Visayas’ biggest drug lord before he was arrested in Abu Dhabi in October 2016.

Before he met Espinosa and Bato, Espenido said he had received a phone call from then PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa, who instructed him to fetch Espinosa after the mayor decided to surrender himself to authorities in August. Duterte had identified Espinosa as a drug lord.

In the same month, Bato and his companion, an 18-year-old girl, were killed in an ambush in Tacloban City, Leyte. 

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , drugs watchlist , Jovie Espenido , Archie Francisco Gamboa
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