Pangasinan Rep. Espino on illegal drugs matrix: ‘I have nothing to do with this’

DAGUPAN CITY — “My fellow Pangasinenses, I promise that I have nothing to do with this.”

Thus said Pangasinan Fifth District Representative Amado Espino Jr., former three-term governor of Pangasinan, in reaction to the matrix bared by President Rodrigo Duterte, allegedly showing the flow of supposed drug money from the New Bilibid Prisons to the outside, of which he is being linked.

In a talk to members of media in Dagupan, Espino said, “I even do not know how my name was implicated in this case.”

The former governor highlighted his being a staunch defender against illegal drugs, citing his service as head of the Anti-Narcotics Task Force when he was still with the Philippine National Police and as one of the principal authors who worked hard to secure the passage of the monumental Republic Act 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

The former governor is a retired colonel of the PNP and a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

Recalling his nine-year watch as Pangasinan chief executive, Rep. Espino cited the reforms he has institutionalized to concretize overall safety and security of Pangasinenses and to combat drug proliferation in the province.

“Pangasinan has been relentless in its anti-illegal drugs campaign, up to now. It was during my term when a sizeable portion of the total provincial budget was earmarked yearly for the anti-illegal drugs program, and the Provincial Anti-Drugs Council and, consequently, the Municipal and Barangay Anti-Drugs Councils were re-organized and re-activated,” he added.

In an appeal for justice and fairness, the former governor requests for a thorough and objective investigation of the matter, which entails an opportunity for him, former Provincial Administrator Rafael Baraan and the others allegedly involved in the issue to present their side and ultimately be freed from false allegations against them.

“Whatever case they put in my way, I am ready to answer all of them,” Rep. Espino said, adding that all of the cases filed against him engineered by his political opponents have been dismissed, with the Black Sand Mining graft case still pending court decision.

Before taking legal actions, the congressman plans to meet President Duterte in person to clear his name, or PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa or the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Isidro Lapeña, if the president refers him to either of them.

The congressman also dispelled allegation in the matrix that he is “the richest politician in the North.”

“That’s a rehashed issue used every election. They attribute everything, all of my friends’ properties to me,” he jested.

Amid the issues hurled at him, the former governor vowed: “Rest assured that I will serve my district and my province. We will still fully support the anti-drugs campaign of the president.” LV Micua/PNA/northboundasia