By Marjaleen Ramos
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Archie Gamboa on Thursday said he would neither confirm nor deny that Police Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido is among those on President Duterte’s “narco-list.”
“I’d like to make a statement that I would not confirm nor deny that Espenido’s on the list and of all other names that they want to link to the drug list that we are now in possession of,” Gamboa said in an interview with ANC’s Headstart.
Gamboa said he made a promise to over 300 police officials in the drug watch-list that he would not disclose their names. “I promised to the 357 that I will not deal with them, I will not divulge their names in the media. I want to maintain confidentiality in this aspect.”
“When you open your mouth as PNP chief, it becomes a policy. Once I comment on the personalities who are listed, baka hindi na ma-adjudicate nang maayos. I want them to enjoy the confidentiality they should have,” he added.
Meanwhile, Gamboa said that the optional retirement offered to at least 357 policemen suspected of being involved in the drug trade would not spare them from possible criminal charges if proven guilty.
“There are a lot of questions why am I offering this. Am I trying to clear them? Look, this is an option you can avail for purposes na para hindi niyo na pahirapan ang PNP,” the police chief clarified.
He said that 15 of these cops availed themselves of optional retirement.
“I told them that this option is good only para di pahirapan ang PNP. But there’s more to it.”
If information would really prove that these policemen are into the drug trade, they will be placed on a separate list — this time on the civilian list and not on the PNP anymore, Gamboa clarified.
“I promised the public, if ever they are involved, we will pursue them,” he assured.
Gamboa said that the optional retirement is “just with respect to also of the services that they have rendered in the government.”
“When you served government, when you put your sweat, put your life on the line, this is an option and recognition also of the services that they have rendered,” he said.
“Gusto ko maibalik ang tiwala ng publiko. Just so the public knows that the PNP knows there are problems, and we are working on it.”