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Gamboa hits back at VP Leni on alleged ‘cover-up’ of cops on watchlist: Wrong statement, no basis

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Police General Archie Francisco Gamboa on Monday hit back at the latest remark of Vice President Leni Robredo, saying that any move to cover-up the inclusion of some cops in the drug watchlist would result in the erosion of the public trust in the police organization.

"Wrong statement cause no basis. I-adjudicate pa nga namin eh why would say we're protecting them? Had we intend to protect them, bakit namin ilabas si 357?" Gamboa told reporters in Camp Crame.

Gamboa further said the PNP would still investigate those cops in the list who had gone AWOL (absence without leave). Of the 357 policemen on the list, a total of 43 had gone AWOL.

"I emphasized, hindi ibig sabihin na nag-optional retirement ka na, hindi ka na namin iimbestigahan. Nandoon pa rin 'yan," Gamboa said.

"Kung ma-prove namin na kasama ka pa rin doon sa watchlist, then we will still place you under monitoring and build cases against you," he added.

Over the weekend, Robredo pointed out that the PNP should show and ensure to all Filipinos that rogue cops would be punished and that the PNP leadership is not tolerating their wrongdoings.

"Ipakita sana ng kapulisan na hindi sila nagpapabaya na hindi maparusahan iyong mga nag-aabuso. Kapag ang stance ng kapulisan [ay] pinapakita na parang pinagtatakpan pa, dito nag-uumpisa iyong erosion ng trust ng tao," Robredo said.

Gamboa has been mum on the report that Police Lieutenant Colonel Jovie Espenido, the cop who led the anti-illegal drugs operation against the Parojinog clan in 2017, was included in the drug watchlist despite a confirmation by no less than Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.

Gamboa has been insisting that he will not divulge the identities of the police officials included in the controversial list. The list, being held by Gamboa, was based on the list of President Rodrigo Duterte.

On Friday, the Palace said Espenido continues to enjoy the trust of the Chief Executive, adding that there seems to be a black propaganda being waged against the cop.

Duterte had praised Espenido for his contribution in the administration's war against illegal drugs.

Prior to the bloody drug raid against the Parojinogs, Espenido was the police chief of Albuera, Leyte when Mayor Rolando Espinosa died during a bloody police search operation at a jail facility in Baybay City in 2016. — RSJ, GMA News