MANILA, Philippines — Seems ironic but Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido, known as a tough cop in going after suspected big time drug lords, is reportedly among the list of 357 suspected police officers under investigation for involvement on illegal drugs.  

It may be recalled that Espenido is no other than the controversial police official who led a bloody operation against members of an influential family down south allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.

It was alleged that Espenido was among the police officials suspected of involvement in illegal drugs who were invited to a closed-meeting called by Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Archie Gamboa recently.

“He (Espenido) is included in that group,” the source said.

In an interview, however, Gamboa refused to confirm nor comment whether Espenido is indeed on the list but he said those under investigation are still presumed innocent.

Last week, Espenido was already relieved from his post as deputy chief for operations and head of the drug enforcement units of the Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO).

The relief order was issued by Maj. Gen. Cesar Hawthorne Binag, chief of the directorial staff. Espenido was reassigned to the Office of the Chief PNP at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

Espenido gained prominence in President Duterte’s anti-drug campaign. He led an operation against members of the Parojinog family in Ozamiz City last July 2017.

In that operation, 15 people, including then Ozamiz mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr., were killed in alleged shootouts.

Vice mayor Nova Princess Parojinog was among those arrested. (IAMIGO/sovereignph.com)