House may probe congressman in 'drug matrix'

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 26 2016 12:51 AM

MANILA - House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Thursday said Congress could look into the alleged links of Pangasinan 5th District Rep. Amado Espino Jr. to illegal drugs.

Espino was among those linked by President Rodrigo Duterte to alleged drugs syndicates in the New Bilibid Prison.  

"We have to look into that," said Alvarez, a key ally of Duterte. 

He said the lower House committees can look into the issue.

Alvarez said he has yet to speak to Espino. 

Espino, a former Pangasinan governor, has criticized Duterte's ''drug matrix,'' which accused him, Senator de Lima and several other officials of involvement in alleged illegal drug operations at NBP.  

In an interview over radio dzMM, Espino insisted that he could never have been in league with de Lima, as she led the filing of several cases against him when she was still Justice Secretary. 

"Paano ko naman makakasama itong si de Lima e siya itong nagpahirap sa akin?" he said. 

[How could I have banded with de Lima when she was the one who persecuted me?]

Espino also argued that his only personal encounter with de Lima was at a wedding, where they were both principal sponsors. 

He added that his first and only visit to the NBP occurred some 12 years ago. 

When she was justice secretary, de Lima charged Espino with plunder, economic sabotage, murder and graft. 

The cases have been dismissed except for the graft raps, which stemmed from Espino's involvement in the black sand mining operations in Lingayen Gulf.