DUTERTE'S BACKING. File photo of Police Lieutenent Colonel Jovie Espenido. Rappler screengrab.

DUTERTE’S BACKING. File photo of Police Lieutenent Colonel Jovie Espenido. Rappler screengrab.

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – As far as President Rodrigo Duterte is concerned, Police Lieutenant Colonel Jovie Espenido is “clean,” Malacañang said on Friday, February 14.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement two days after it was reported that suspected of drug links.

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte believes that Police Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido is clean,” Panelo said.

“There appears to be a black propaganda waged against Lt. Col. Espenido to besmirch the reputation of the latter in the eyes of PRRD and the Filipino nation, and to derail his unrelenting campaign against illegal drugs,” he added.

Panelo said that Espenido “continues to enjoy the trust and confidence of the President.”

Espenido was on top of the operation that led to the killing of Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and 14 others, including Parojinog’s wife Susan, brother Octavio Jr, and sister Mona in 2017. He earned praise from Duterte because of this.

Espenido was also police chief of Albuera, Leyte, when its mayor, Rolando Espinosa, was killed by cops during the service of a warrant in his detention cell.

During the Senate hearing on the death of Rolando Espinosa in November 2016, the late mayor’s son, to the illegal drug trade which the police officer denied.

Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo Lacson, who was Espenido’s commanding officer in the now defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF), said he knew him “as someone who consistently performed his duty with integrity and dedication. At least that was how I knew him in the many instances that he faced those challenges.”

Lacson said: “I sent him a text message with a simple question: “What happened?” He has not replied, unlike before when he would even text me with early morning bible quotes.”

Lacson added: If Espenido’s case is true, it “could be one big reason why the war against illegal drugs is failing.” – Rappler.com