Cop among 357 policemen on Duterte drug list already dead

MANILA, Philippines – One cop in President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug list is already dead, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Archie Gamboa said on Monday, February 17, bringing down the count of cops in the controversial list to 356.

According to Gamboa, the cop was shot dead “two to 3 days” before Gamboa disclosed that 357 cops were in President Duterte’s drug watchlist. It is unclear whether the killing was drug-related or not.

Of the 356 who remained alive, some 43 have been absent without leave. Some 317 of those left came to Camp Crame for a meeting which was followed by a drug test. All of them tested negative, Gamboa said.

Among those included in the list is drug war poster boy Lieutenant Colonel Jovie Espenido and two one-star generals.

Gamboa said they will not search for the 43 cops who have been AWOL, adding that they should be the ones who comes to the police command to clear their names. The 317, meanwhile, were given the chance to retire early to cut themselves off the police organization, effectively allowing them to evade administrative complaints.

The top cop said, however, that while they were allowed to retire, they can still be probed for criminal charges.

Inclusion in the watchlist does not automatically mean involvement in illegal drugs, as inclusion is only based on raw and unverified information. Despite this, the Duterte administration has repeatedly shared excerpts of the list to the public, most notably before the 2018 village elections and the 2019 midterm elections. –


Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.