MANILA, Philippines–Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II said Friday he has been ordered by President Benigno Aquino III to conduct a thorough investigation into the alleged involvement of Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino in the numbers racket “jueteng.”
This was after whistleblowers Mayor Ricardo Orduna of Bugallon town in Pangasinan and Barangay (village) Chairman Fernando “Boy Bata” Alimagno claimed that Espino has been operating jueteng in their province and had been receiving at least P800 million “protection money.”
Orduna is said to be a self-confessed jueteng operative with whom Espino “had a recent falling out over their business arrangements,” while Alimagno is allegedly a jueteng financier and operator in the province.
“These are documented, actionable complaints. 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,” Roxas said in a press conference at Camp Crame.
In his sworn statement, Orduna claimed that he personally handed to Espino some P2.5 million every week for several years since Espino became Pangasinan governor.
He said Espino used to receive a smaller amount of P750,000 weekly when he was still only a congressman in the province.
“I advise Governor Espino to get a good lawyer,” Roxas said.
A Senior Superintendent Wilson Lopez was also implicated as the “go-between and jueteng collector” of Espino.
The DILG secretary also promised a swift and thorough investigation according to the provisions of several applicable laws including the Anti-Graft Law, the Anti-Money Laundering Act and the Plunder Law or Republic Act 7080.
“With my background in finance, I know that when money flows, there will be a trail. We will use the anti-money laundering law…,” Roxas said.
Roxas considered the coming out of the whistle blowers a “major breakthrough” in the government’s continuous battle against jueteng, as he vowed to protect the witnesses and their families.
“Orduna and Alimagno will be taken under the care of some religious organizations pending their inclusion in the WPP [witness protection program],” Roxas said.