Policemen who have availed of optional retirement following their inclusion in the government’s drug watchlist could still face prosecution, Malacañang said Thursday.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the government could not “waive criminal prosecution when there is a violation of a law.”
“Getting rid of them through retirement doesn’t preclude the filing of criminal prosecution,” Panelo said at a news conference.
“By getting that retirement, you’re admitting you’re involved kasi precisely iyon ang purpose.”
The Philippine National Police, whose former chief Oscar Albayalde resigned last October over his alleged drug links, earlier revealed that 357 cops are under investigation in connection with their alleged involvement in illegal drugs.
Of that number, 15 have availed of optional retirement while 43 had gone AWOL (absence without leave).
PNP chief General Archie Francisco Gamboa said that he offered the option to cops who are guilty and believe they will be found guilty.
"Sabi ko if you are guilty and sa tingin niyo with the composition of those who will evaluate eh makikita niyo hindi kayo makakalusot, or if you really want peace of mind, then we offer you optional retirement," Gamboa said Wednesday.
However, he added, "I made it clear to them na hindi ibig sabihin na kapag nag optionally retired ka eh hindi ka na namin susundan."
Gamboa has refused to disclose the list to the public even after reports pointed to Police Lieutenant Colonel Jovie Espenido as among those included in the list.
Espenido previously earned praise from President Rodrigo Duterte for his contributions to the bloody war on drugs. — BM, GMA News