Re-print by Christian Esguerra
MANILA, Philippines—The Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) issued a statement on Wednesday, defending Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino from allegations that he had collected some P900 million in bribes from illegal gambling operators in his province.
Valenzuela Rep. Rex Gatchalian, the NPC spokesperson, said local politics likely triggered the accusations against Espino. The re-electionist Espino is being challenged in the 2013 election contest by Alaminos Mayor Hernani Braganza, a member of President Aquino’s Liberal Party.
“Let us not forget that elections are coming and given the huge advantage that he enjoys over his perceived opponents as evidenced by the latest survey results, it is not hard to think that politics could be the reason behind all these (attacks),” Gatchalian said.
The NPC statement described Espino as a “member of good standing [who] has a long and distinguished track record as a public servant.”
“The NPC is solidly behind Governor Espino who has been dragged into this controversy, not by his own doing, but by some people who were out to destroy his good name and reputation,” Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian described the accusations made by Bugallon Mayor Rodrigo Orduña as “nothing but mere allegations because they failed to present any solid proof to back up their claims.”
It was Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the LP president “on leave,” who presented Orduña, a confessed jueteng bagman of Espino, at a press conference to detail his accusations against the governor.
A confessed jueteng operator, Fernando “Boy Bata” Alimagno, later executed an affidavit corroborating Orduña’s accusations.
“In the end, we are confident that Governor Espino will be vindicated, not only in the forthcoming probe on the matter, but more importantly in the coming elections when the people would surely re-elect him into office,” Gatchalian said.