LINGAYEN—Governor Amado Espino Jr. has admitted that the charges hurled against him, the latest of which is for allegedly masterminding the murder of Infanta Mayor Ruperto Martinez last December, have been “difficult” but he said he will not give in to the “dirty politics” being pursued by his political enemies.
“Hindi ako pwedeng mag-succumb sa ganun,” Espino said during an interview after a joint tree-planting activity of the Region 1 Athletic Association (R1AA) and the provincial government.
Espino said the unfairness of the situation has affected not just him but also his family, especially his mother who has been confined in a hospital.
“Ang gusto kasing mangyari sa’kin… sabi raw ng kalaban ko, kung ako sya magpakulong na lang siya, mas maganda pa para sa kanya…dahil mas delikado kung nasa labas siya, mag-eeleksyon,” said Espino as quoting his sources.
He maintained that the jueteng and murder baseless allegations that are both politically motivated but gained mileage in the local and national media.
Espino noted that NBI neither talked nor investigated him and 1st District Rep. Jesus Celeste, the other respondent in the murder charge, before it filed the case, and the charges were filed based solely on the uncorroborated statement of a witness who is now under NBI’s protective custody.
Espino said Martinez was one of the mayors closest to him and it was actually him and Celeste who were the first to seek the help of NBI Dagupan City to hasten the investigation of the case.
“Ang pinakahinanakit ko lang dito sa lahat lahat… ang dinaramdam ko sa ngayon ay yung klase ng pulitika na pilit naming inalis, inaalis, mas masahol pa ung bumalik, yun ang pinanghihinayangan ko.. na dapat wala na yan,” lamented the governor.
Further, he said that over his 41 years in public service, “ngayon lang ako nakakita ng ganitong klaseng tao na gumagawa ng ganito sa pulitika.” While he did not name names, he was obviously referring to the Liberal Party (LP) gubernatorial bet Hernani Braganza.
Meanwhile, retired 2nd District Representative Leopoldo Bataoil, a fellow former police officer of Espino, expressed his support to the call of Celeste that authorities be fair in their investigation.
Celeste made the call after the NBI filed the charges before the Department of Justice despite the victim’s family’s advice that authorities should investigate their lone suspect, Atty. Florante Miano.
Bataoil said, that enforcing that law should be “without fear or favor to anyone, a law that is level in playing field to anyone, fair and square for everyone.”
The congressman also warned that the charges against Espino and Celeste “could boomerang” against those who are allegedly behind the manipulation.
LP TO ESPINO
But the LP insists that Espino should stop “blaming politics” and instead be ready with a strong legal defense.
In a press statement, LP spokesman and former Pangasinan Vice Governor Oscar Lambino said, “The charges against Gov. Espino are serious and may land him in jail if found guilty. He better prepare a solid legal defense or he may find himself behind bars.”
Atty. Bodie Pulido, the LP’s congressional candidate for Pangasinan’s 1st District, also advised Espino “to hire a better lawyer who spends more time in keeping clients out of jail than in holding expensive press conferences just to look good before the media.”
“The governor should be man enough to face the charges. He should stop blaming politics or his political rivals for the crimes attributed to him,” Pulido added.
“The good governor is getting predictable. Every time law enforcers charge him for his sins of the past, his stooges hold a press conference the following day and blame politics for the court cases,” Pulido said.—Johanne R. Macob