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Rep. Espino told to take respite

Deputy Speaker and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro advised yesterday Pangasinan Rep. Amado Espino Jr. to “take a leave of absence” from the Lower Chamber to clear his name after he was included in President Duterte’s matrix of prison drug trade.

The House leader also affirmed that the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges can motu proprio investigate Espino, explaining that congressmen are governed by the rules of the House of Representatives.

“The moment that he clears his name, and prove that he was not involved, his constituents and the entire country will not accuse him if using his position as a House member to defend or shield himself from accusations against him,” Castro said in a radio interview.

Castro adds the House leadership can name a caretaker to temporarily take the spot of Espino should the beleaguered congressman take a leave.

In the Muntinlupa Connection” matrix showed by President Duterte to the media last Thursday in Davao City, Espino was described as “richest politician in Northern Luzon” and has “amassed unexplained wealth.” According to the matrix, aside from prison drug trade, he was also purportedly involved in black sand mining, quarrying, and jueteng.

Espino already denied allegations by saying that it was impossible for him to be involved in the prison drug trade since he did not know anyone from the NBP and that his last visit to the NBP was 13 years ago when he visited former Rep. Romeo Jalosjos.

Castro, a lawyer, refused to entertain the possibility of having a House probe to look into the matrix.

“The matrix itself is not an enough basis for the House to conduct a probe,” added Castro.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier said “proper” committees will look into the inclusion of Espino in the matrix. (Charissa M. Lucci)