EDITORIAL - Ferreting out dirty cops
(The Philippine Star) - February 15, 2020 - 12:00am

Hailed by higher-ups for his record in fighting the drug menace, police Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido now finds himself on the other side of the battle. The other day, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año confirmed reports that Espenido is among 357 police officers who have been relieved of their posts and are facing investigation for possible links to the illegal drug trade.

Espenido was the police chief of Albuera, Leyte when its mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. was shot dead in his jail cell by a police team ostensibly serving a search warrant for guns and drugs in November 2016. In July 2017, when Espenido was police chief of Ozamiz City, a police raid led to the killing of then mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and 14 others including his wife Susan, brother Octavio Jr. and sister Mona. Both Espinosa and Parojinog were on the government’s list of suspected narco politicians.

Now it’s Espenido’s turn to be on the narco list. Yesterday he received a boost from President Duterte, who reportedly believes Espenido is clean. Last year, Duterte had appointed Espenido as deputy operations chief of Bacolod City, with the instruction to “go there and you are free to kill everybody… start killing them.” 

The President has always reassured law enforcers that he has their back in case they face legal problems in implementing his campaign against illegal drugs. There is always the possibility, however, that anti-narcotics cops would succumb to the temptation of drug money, which is considerably big money.

The President himself has lamented the recycling of confiscated prohibited drugs by so-called ninja cops. The Philippine National Police leadership has promised that the 357 officers under investigation by both the PNP and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency would be accorded due process. For the success of the anti-drug campaign, this probe must be allowed to take its course.

Dirty cops are among the biggest banes in any campaign against illegal drugs. Investigators should not let any vote of confidence get in the way of a credible probe of any police officer who might be involved in drug deals.

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