Duterte can still lose confidence in Espenido depending on intel

As the Commander-in-Chief, law enforcement and intelligence agencies answer to Duterte

Rambo Talabong

Published: 2:35 PM February 17, 2020

Updated: 5:23 PM February 17, 2020

LISTED. Jovie Espenido talks to reporters after receiving a medal for his efforts on the administration's war on drugs in 2017. Rappler screengrab.

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte can still lose confidence in one of the most lauded cops in his unrelenting but lagging anti-illegal drugs campaign, Lieutenant Colonel Jovie Espenido.

In a press briefing on Monday, February 17, Duterte spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte can still change his position on Espenido depending on the information he receives from law enforcers and his own "sources."

"His position is on the basis of circumstances or intelligence information given to him. But if those circumstances change, then, necessarily, he would have to change his position," Panelo told Malacañang reporters.

Why the disclaimer? On February 14, Panelo said Duterte believes that Espenido is "clean" despite the cop's inclusion in his own controversial drug list. The spokesman added in the earlier briefing that Espenido's inclusion is a product of "black propaganda," prejudicing further probes on the decorated cop.

Rappler first reported of Espenido's inclusion in the list on February 12 before it was officially confirmed by Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on February 14.

How can Duterte check for himself? As the Commander-in-Chief, law enforcement and intelligence agencies answer to Duterte. He can tap them to receive more information on the alleged drug links of Espenido. (READ: Big funds, little transparency: How Duterte's drug list works)

Duterte can also tap into his massive intelligence budget for 2020, which stands at P4.5 billion.

Despite the funds, the process of intelligence-gathering for the controversial drug list has exhibited multiple lapses, and the process of verification continues to be cloudy for the public. – Rappler.com