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Ex-San Pablo City mayor: My brothers were into illegal drugs 10 years ago

/ 12:41 AM August 10, 2016
Former San Pablo City Mayor Vicente Amante (Screengrab of the Philippine Professional Directory and Online Appointment -www.philpro.ph/vicente-b-amante)

Former San Pablo City Mayor Vicente Amante (Screengrab of the Philippine Professional Directory and Online Appointment -www.philpro.ph/vicente-b-amante)

SAN PABLO CITY — The former mayor of this city in Laguna province has tagged his younger brothers as a pusher and user of illegal drugs, saying he would rather die than dip his hand in the illegal activity.

“I’d rather hang myself in the [city] plaza [than get involved in the illegal drug trade],” said Vicente Amante, the former mayor here.

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Amante, the 68-year-old leader of the Amante political clan in the city, denied anew the accusations that he was involved in drug trafficking, after his name was mentioned by President Duterte as among local officials who have been engaged in illegal drugs.

On Monday, a day after the list that included politicians, judges, and policemen came out, Amante sought Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa, to clear his name.

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Interviewed on Tuesday in his sprawling property here where the construction of a multilevel hotel has been going on, Amante pointed at his younger brothers, Edwin and Damaso as the ones into illegal drugs but he quickly said they had stopped over a decade ago.

Pressed on how deep they were involved in the illicit trade, Amante said Edwin used to be a “user” while Damaso, a “pusher.”

Amante served as city mayor from 1992 to 2001 and from 2004 to 2013. He was succeeded by his son, Loreto, who is now serving his second term.

“I talked to [my brothers]. I told [Damaso] that if he wanted to be in politics, he should change his ways,” Amante said.

In May 2016, Damaso ran but lost as fourth district representative of Laguna. He ran under a rival party.

Amante and Loreto supported Damaso’s rival, former television reporter Sol Aragones, their party mate in the United Nationalist Alliance.

Damaso also faced illegal drug charges following raids in 2001 and 2007, but cases filed against him were eventually dismissed.

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Edwin, meanwhile, was tagged in the 2012 slay of Laguna Board Member Reynaldo Paras. Loreto earlier said Edwin was no longer in the city.

Amante denied protecting his brothers when he was in power.

In fact, he said, four of his nephews had turned themselves in to authorities and two of them were sent to a drug rehabilitation center.

Amante said the President might have gotten the information on his supposed drug links from former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency director Dionisio Santiago, who earlier named the Amantes as among families with members involved in in illegal drugs either as users or pushers.

He, however, said he was not out to question Mr. Duterte but considered this a “challenge” to support the government’s anti-drug campaign.

The Amantes used to own the now defunct Amante Motors that manufactured passenger jeepneys. Recalling how a son had died when they had no money for hospitalization, Amante said the family rose from poverty by engaging in the construction and memorial park businesses.  SFM

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