MANILA - Senator Chiz Escudero categorically denied any link to smuggling, believing that allegations about his ties to smugglers are related to politics.
Escudero challenged accusers to show evidence of his alleged involvement in rice smuggling.
“Matagal nang sinasabi ‘yan. Kasama ‘yan sa pagiging adik, lasenggo, bakla at lahat ng pintas. Siguro panahon na talaga ng eleksyon. But I’ll answer it directly, hindi, wala. At kung sino man ang nagsasabi, e di magandang ilabas nila kung anong ebidensya ang mayroon. Para sa akin, napakadaling mag-akusa at napakadaling mag-allege, at ngayong panahong pang ito, malamang ay maraming sasakay pa lagi,” Escudero said.
He admitted being friends with Lito Banayo, the former head of the National Food Authority (NFA), but denied having any business dealings with him.
Escudero said he only endorsed Banayo to become a board member of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) when President Aquino assumed office.
Escudero denied being friends with David Bangayan.
While Escudero and Customs deputy commissioners Ariel Nepomuceno and Agaton Uvero belong to the same fraternity, Alpha Phi Beta, the senator said he did not endorse any of them.
He described as “raw and unvalidated” the supposed report of Customs deputy commissioner Jessie Dellosa reportedly linking high officials to smuggling.
Escudero said he would not be surprised if he would be named in the report, adding that he has heard of the accusation during the last elections.
He said he would be willing to attend a Senate hearing if the matter would be taken up in an investigation if only to clear his name.
“If there is an intelligence report, it should be brought out. Kung sino ang mabanggit, magpaliwanag, magsabi,” he said.
“If my name is mentioned, definitely,” he added when asked if he would attend a Senate inquiry if any. “Kung dinadawit nila ako, definitely… to prove the point that it’s not true.”