Conflicting reports surround the Wednesday afternoon ambush on former Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino Jr. and his escorts by still unidentified gunmen in San Carlos, a third-class city in his home province.
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By nightfall, the 71-year-old Espino, who was rushed to the Blessed Family hospital in San Carlos City, was declared out of danger, but reports on his bodyguards were at variance—some said two were slain but Senator Richard Gordon in his tweet said all five were dead.
Espino, previously erroneously included in President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug matrix of those allegedly linked to the drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison, was at the time Pangasinan’s representative from the 5th district.
But Duterte eventually issued a public apology to Espino for the error, saying he was “negligent in counterchecking” the drug matrix he had released publicly.
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According to police reports reaching Manila, Espino was aboard his vehicle passing through Barangay Magtaking in San Carlos City, when he was shot by an unidentified suspect.
The reports said Espino was on board a black Land Cruiser with two back-up Innovas, the convoy traversing San Carlos City road when fired upon at around 4:30 p.m.
Espino served in the military for over 30 years under then-President Ferdinand Marcos. Upon his retirement, he ran and won the governorship in Pangasinan serving for three terms.
The names of his escorts have not been released, and some reports said they were all dead.
Espino Jr., born on June 20, 1948 in Bautista, Pangasinan, earned the degree of Bachelor of Science at the Philippine Military Academy in 1972 and obtained a degree in Masters in Development Management in 1995 at the Pangasinan State University.
Being a graduate of PMA, he was placed in different police ranks, starting out as an intelligence and operations officer in Quirino Constabulary Command; then, as Company Commander both in the Philippine Constabulary of La Union and Pangasinan.
Espino was the first former military and police officer in modern times to become governor of Pangasinan.
Espino vowed to restore peace and order in Pangasinan following unsolved political killings of San Carlos City Mayor Julian Resuello and San Manuel Vice Mayor Bonie Apilado.
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