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MMDA lifts number coding for EDSA People Power anniversary

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PNP chief, Gen. Archie Gamboa / PNA

PNP chief refuses to unmask 'narco-cops'

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Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Gen. Archie Gamboa said he will not disclose the identities of the 357 police officers allegedly involved in illegal drugs pending investigation results.

“Respect our request. I appealed to you that don’t look at the personalities in the watchlist. It’s a very complex process. So we will not discuss anything about it because there are prejudices that (might) be developed (by) people,” Gamboa told reporters in Filipino in a chance interview in Camp Crame early Thursday morning.

Gamboa's remarks came after reports said Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido, former deputy for operations and drug enforcement unit chief of the Bacolod City Police Office, is allegedly included on President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug list.

He added that public pronouncements on the watchlist could “preempt the decision of the President” on how to address the issue once these cops are proven to be involved in illegal drugs.

“So I hope you will let us do the evaluation and we will submit it to the President. We don’t know what the President will do with the recommendation,” Gamboa added.

The validation of information on 299 of the 357 police officers reportedly involved in illegal drugs officially started at the regional level on Thursday.

Meanwhile, 15 applied for optional retirement while the remaining 43 went absent without official leave (AWOL).

On Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said he will ask Duterte to comment on Espenido’s alleged inclusion in the narco list.

However, he raised doubt over online news outlet Rappler for being among the first to publish a story claiming that two police generals, who refused to be named, confirmed the report.

Espenido, also former Ozamiz City police chief, made headlines for leading the July 2017 anti-drug operation where suspected narco-politician, city mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr., and 15 others were killed.

He was also the police chief of Albuera, Leyte when its former mayor Rolando Espinosa, who was detained as a drug suspect, was shot dead inside the sub-provincial jail in Baybay City in 2016.

In October 2019, Espenido was promoted as deputy for operations and drug enforcement unit chief of the Bacolod City Police Office.

But on February 5, Espenido was relieved from his post and transferred to Gamboa's office.

Espenido’s transfer came only three weeks after he started leading the city police in anti-drug operations at Sitio Sibucao in Barangay Banago, Bacolod City -- an area known for the presence of several drug personalities.

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