‘No proof Espenido is linked to illegal drugs’

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    THERE is no evidence that will link Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido, the Duterte administration’s poster boy of its war on drugs, in the narcotics trade in Western Visayas.

    Regional police director Brig. Gen. Rene Pamuspusan yesterday said the verification and investigation conducted by the Western Visayas Police Regional Office (WV-PRO) on Espenido’s suspected link to the region’s narcotics operations yielded a negative result.

    “So far there is no confirmatory report or reliable information to prove he (Espenido) is involved (in illegal drugs) here in Region VI,” Pamuspusan said.

    Pamuspusan said it is now up to the national adjudication board in Camp Crame to check if Espenido was involved in the illegal drugs trade when he was assigned in other regions.

    Espenido was last assigned as the deputy chief for operations of the Bacolod City police station before he was relieved and adjudicated by the WV-PRO following his inclusion in President Duterte’s list of narco policemen.

    Espenido was among the 357 police officers named as allegedly involved with the illegal drugs trade in the country.

    “As far as we are concerned in Region VI, we have not gathered any information from various agencies in Region VI (about his involvement in illegal drugs). We don’t have any reliable information that he is involved,” Pamuspusan said.

    Pamuspusan said the verification and investigation was conducted by the WV-PRO because Espenido’s last assignment prior his relief was in the region.

    While assigned in Bacolod City, Espenido was in charge of the city’s anti-drug operations.

    “He has laid out some (anti-drug) programs in Bacolod,” Pamuspusan said.

    Sought for comment about Pamuspusan’s statement, Espenido said: “Praise the Lord. God bless us always. To God be all the Glory.”

    Espenido has denied in past interviews with the media any involvement in illegal drugs, calling his inclusion in the narco list a product of “intelligence failure.”

    The media interviews have turned out to be violations of a directive from PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa for the narco cops not to discuss the issue with the media.

    Pamuspusan, who was directed by Gamboa to investigate Espenido for the gag infraction, said he has already spoken to Espenido.

    “He said he was asked by the media so he merely answered. We are conducting a review to determine how we are going to handle the explanation of colonel Espenido,” Pamuspusan said.