A source, who requested anonymity, said Espenido was among the police officials suspected of involvement in illegal drugs who were at a meeting called by Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Archie Gamboa.
Edd Gumban/ File
PNP chief 'insulted' by media reports on Espenido's narco-list inclusion
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - February 13, 2020 - 12:42pm

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Archie Gamboa expressed his displeasure with members of the media on Thursday for their reportage on the inclusion of Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido in a group of cops suspected of involvement with illegal narcotics. 

The police chief also vowed not to comment on the issue further after journalists pressed for comment. 

News of Espenido's alleged inclusion broke Wednesday night after an anonymous source tagged him as among police officials suspected of involvement in illegal drugs at an earlier meeting arranged by Gamboa.

READ: Espenido sacked for suspected drug links?

At an ambush interview with reporters the following day, though, the police chief opted to stay silent on the allegations and instead directed his ire towards reporters, particularly Rappler reporter Rambo Talabong, for publishing the story. 

"Ang sinabi ko sa inyo, respect our...nakiusap ako eh. And then here comes the issue of Rambo. I feel insulted. Sinasabi ko sa inyo, I will not answer," Gamboa said. "Nag-promise na ako na di ako sasagot kay Rambo. Thank you! Good morning!"

Bloody history 

Espenido, among the national police's more decorated figures, held the rank of chief inspector when he played an active role in the 2017 Ozamiz police raid.

The raid on July 30, 2017 resulted in the deaths of 15 people, including then Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog, who was tagged by President Rodrigo Duterte as a drug lord, and his wife. At the time, Espenido said that the plan was to take them in alive. 

READ: DOJ indicts Espenido over bloody June 2017 Ozamiz raid

“We wanted them alive and to show the people how they are being subjected to the grind of justice," he said. "It is better to have them in prison and await the reckoning of the law.”

Espenido was also the chief of police of Albuera, Leyte when police raided the house of then Mayor Rolando Espinosa, who was later killed in detention. 

The National Bureau of Investigation tagged the incident as a rubout rather than a shootout.

In October of 2019, Espenido was assigned to be the next deputy city director for operations of the Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO). But he was just recently removed from this position on Sunday, February 9. 

Lt. Col. Ariel Pico, spokesman for the BCPO, said on Wednesday that the source of allegations linking Espenido to the illegal drug trade was still unknown. 

Narco-list or hit list?

Just days ago on Monday night, a Maguindanao mayor, who was also on the narcolistwas gunned down outside a hotel in Quirino Avenue in Manila.

The president's initial narcolist was read out during a live press conference in 2016 and included politicians, lawmakers and judges alike. But this was only the first of many. 

READ: Duterte orders cops to kill 'idiots' violently resisting arrest

On March 14, 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte released another list, this time of 46 local government officials, whom the President claimed were linked to illegal drug activity. The Presidential Communications Operations Office publicized the list the following day.

Malacañang earlier said that the intention behind publicizing the 2019 list was to inform voters' decisions in the midterm elections so they would not vote for those with alleged links to the illegal drug trade. 

Human rights groups, including the Commission on Human Rights, have called it a potential hit list. — with reports from Emmanuel Tupas

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