Espino meets Duterte, denies drug link
Pangasinan Rep. and former Governor Amado Espino denied his alleged links to the illegal drug trade, assuring President Rodrigo Duterte that he would support the administration’s war on drugs.
In a statement on Wednesday, Espino said he sought an audience with Duterte on Tuesday when he assured the President that he would be ready to face the allegations.
“Yesterday, Aug. 30, 2016, I was granted a private meeting with President Rody Duterte at Malacañang Palace. During the meeting, I categorically denied before the President any involvement in that New Bilibid Prison illegal drug matrix,” Espino said in his address before lawmakers.
“I told the President that I am willing and ready to face my accusers and all the [evidence] and witnesses they may present,” he added.
Duterte had released his drug matrix linking political nemesis Senator Leila De Lima to the drug trade through her former driver Ronnie Dayan, who the President alleged was De Lima’s lover who collected drug payoffs for her in the Bilibid.
Duterte had linked Espino to De Lima and Dayan’s alleged drug business with former Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III.
Espino said he could not be involved in the illegal drug trade, having been a governor of Pangasinan for nine years who was “relentless in its anti-drugs campaign,” who activated the municipal and barangay (village) anti-drug council, and who earmarked a sizable budget for the anti-illegal drug program.
Espino said he also studied narcotic investigation in the military and even studied at the US Drug Enforcement Agency.
“A quick review of the immediate past will reveal that I cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be associated or have collaborated with Senator De Lima in any undertaking or with any drug personality or drug syndicate, for that matter,” Espino said. RAM
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