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Palace offers government protection to controversial cop

President Rodrigo Duterte will not let embattled Lt. Colonel Jovie Espenido to be harmed, the Palace said Thursday after Espenido said the government could go after him since he was included in its drug watchlist.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Espenido could ask for protection from the government if he feared for his life, and assured him that President Duterte would not hurt anyone ‘‘outside legal processes.

“If that is the fear of Colonel Espenido, then we cannot stop him from entertaining such apprehension. But the President will not allow anyone to be hurt outside legal processes or methods sanctioned by law, Panelo told reporters.

“If Espenido would want to ask for any protective measure from the government, then he can so request just like any other citizen.

Meanwhile, Espenido welcomed the due process granted by Philippine National Police Chief Archie Gamboa to the policemen on Duterte’s latest drug watch list, including him.

At the same time, he apologized to his superiors for expressing his sentiments before the media in light of recent developments.

“I appreciate the move of the chief PNP that within one month, those on the list must be adjudicated to determine whether the allegations are true, Espenido said in a press conference in Bacolod City on Wednesday.

Espenido, who was praised by Duterte for leading deadly police operations, said the intelligence might be wrong in including his name on the watch list and ‘‘greedy politicians might be tarnishing his reputation.

“He must have some basis for that, Panelo said when asked to comment on Espenido’s remark against politicians.

The President earlier rallied to Espenido’s defense, saying the cop’s inclusion was only part of a ‘‘black propaganda meant to discredit the government痴 anti-drug campaign.

In an interview with Rappler, Espenido said his name was first included in the list in 2016, months after President Duterte assumed office, but he recalled being cleared from the list.

The drug watch list was earlier questioned for its credibility when Duterte released its first version on Aug. 7, 2016, which included a judge who had died eight years before. 

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , Jovie Espenido , Salvador Panelo , drug watchlist
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