Amado Espino, the incumbent governor in the province of Pangasinan in the Philippines has been advised by Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas to “find a good lawyer” after explosive allegations were made by two of his former cohorts regarding his supposed involvement in jueteng operations in the province.
The bombshell allegations against Espino were dropped by Mayor Ricardo Orduna of Bugallon, Pangasinan and Barangay Chairman Fernando Alimagno, two men who claim to have had inside dealings with the operation. Mayor Bugallon, for one, is a self-confessed jueteng operative while Alimagno was known to be a jueteng financier in the province.
According to the two whistleblowers, Espino had been receiving Php 8 million monthly in protection money since he became governor of Pangasinan. Orduna even indicated in his sworn statement that he personally handed the governor Php 2.5 million each week since the latter came into office and Php 750,000 a week when he was just a congressman in the Philippine province.
DILG secretary Mar Roxas lauded the two for coming out and blowing the lid off of the illegal gambling operations, something that has become a crusade of sorts for the government ever since President Benigno Aquino III came into office. For his part, Roxas indicated that the two, together with their families, will have the DILG’s support for their roles exposing the governor’s allegedly shoddy wheelings and dealings. Likewise, in a statement released by the Office of the Press Secretary, President Aquino also directed Roxas to build strike down swiftly and with authority on any of the alleged individuals involved in the jueteng operations, including Governor Espino.
“We are determined to pursue this case to its logical end under the rule of law and should serve as a warning to syndicates and coddlers of illegal gambling operations to stop or be stopped,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, Pangasinan Vice Governor Ferdinand Calimlim debunked the allegations made by Orduna and Alimagno, saying, “There is no truth to the allegations against the governor.”
It’s also worth noting that Orduna’s motives for exposing Espino could point to a supposed recent falling out with the governor and could be conceived as some sort of retribution. Be that as it may, it appears that the mayor is determined to put the governor on the stand and answer the damning allegations cast against him, even going as far as filing a plunder case against the governor before the Ombudsman where he, together with Almagro, presented sworn statements regarding their roles in running the illegal numbers game in Pangasinan.
“These are documented, actionable complaints,” Roxas claims. “We have two insiders who have come out in the open, and have submitted sworn statements, which will be the basis of the Department of the Interior and Local Government to conduct a thorough investigation.”
Whichever side is telling the truth, it certainly looks like this case is only just beginning.