NPC decries ‘harassment’ of Pangasinan gov



Former Pangasinan Representative Mark Cojuangco. photo

DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines – The Nationalist People’s Coalition on Saturday accused the Aquino administration of harassing its party member, Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino, in anticipation of the 2013 elections.

“It was timed after a survey that says their (Liberal Party) candidate will not win against Governor Espino,” former Pangasinan Representative Mark Cojuangco, NPC provincial chairman, said in a phone interview.

Espino is seeking his third and last term against Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza, the LP’s gubernatorial bet. Thirty-nine of Pangasinan’s 48 town and city mayors are NPC members.

On Friday, Bugallon Mayor Rodrigo Orduña filed a plunder case in the Office of the Ombudsman in Manila against Espino who, he claimed, had accepted P900 million in payoffs from “jueteng” operators in the last 10 years.

“If he [Orduña] claims that he was the one giving the money he collected to Espino, why didn’t he tell [authorities] where the money was coming from?” Cojuangco said.

He said Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II should look for the source of the alleged payola which Orduña claimed to have delivered to Espino.

“Why single out Governor Espino as if he is the cause of all jueteng [operations] in the whole country? That is not right. It smacks of harassment because their candidate has no chance of winning,” Cojuangco said.

In 2007, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office proposed the Loterya ng Bayan, which was supposed to be an alternative to jueteng, he said.

“But nothing happened with [the proposal]. If they were really serious about [eradicating jueteng] then, we should not be talking about this anymore now,” he said.

A former University of the Philippines official also questioned the timing of Orduña’s exposé.

“Why only now? Why didn’t he do that earlier? Very political. He just would like to destroy [Espino’s] image because I think he is a strong candidate,” said Dr. Perla Legaspi, former director of the UP Center for Local and Regional Governance and former vice chancellor of UP Diliman.

“There will always be issues of all kinds against a candidate during elections. That’s why we should be very vigilant when it pertains to governance. Let’s not wait for the elections,” said Legaspi, who is now program head and professor at Lyceum-Northwestern University here.

In a news conference on Friday, Espino said town mayors transacted directly with operators of jai alai, a legal gaming operation that Orduña claimed was a front for jueteng, an illegal numbers game.

Espino said: “There was an issue in Manila about my meeting Mr. Charlie Ang. The man who introduced me to Ang was Mayor Orduña of Bugallon. Mr. Ang sought my permission to visit the mayors so he could apply for business permits to operate jai alai gaming stations.”

“The ones who issue permits are the mayors. Let me repeat that. I did not issue any permit to Mr. Charlie Ang. So how can I ask anything from him?” the governor said.

Provincial records showed that 45 of 48 towns and cities of the province allowed jai alai to operate in their areas, after it was introduced in 2010 by Ang, a consultant to Meridian Vista Gaming Inc.

Meridian hosts jai alai games in the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport and operates online betting stations outside the zone as sanctioned by the Games and Amusement Board.

Dasol Mayor Noel Nacar, president of Pangasinan’s League of Municipalities, said these mayors issued business permits to Meridian to operate jai alai betting stations after submitting the proper documentation.

But Nacar said the betting station in his town had not drawn enough patronage since it opened in 2010.

Senior Superintendent Mariano Luis Verzosa, Pangasinan police director, confirmed that jai alai operations in the province were played like jueteng, although the police had not touched them because “they are not illegal.”

Verzosa said Pangasinan was “96 percent jueteng-free” because jai alai operations had become dominant in the province.

“Jai alai betting in the province is like betting in jueteng,” he said. He said in jai alai, a bettor chooses a combination of three numbers from one to 10.

However, in Pangasinan, Meridian allows a jai alai bettor to choose a two-number combination from one to 38. When playing jueteng, gamblers choose a combination of two numbers from one to 37.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • LucianoChing

    The talk in Pangasinan is out in the woods,e.i.,Mayor Braganza stands no chance to win againts Gov.Espino… wid dat,the LP Pang.,being a weak party with a weak governatorial candidate,decided to tag Pangasinan a hotspot purportedly to weaken Espinos’ political network…After a while.the LP realized that the move would not dent Espinos’ advantage…hence the case of plunder which is not bailable but a viable move to handcuff Espino…A sudden case of plunder surprises a lot of Pangasinenses and I believe that this move which might result in Espinos’ being suspended or imprisoned before the campaign period starts is what the LP thinks will give them the advantage…The LP is very wrong….The party must remember that the highest member in them,Pres.Aquino won againts all odds in the presidential elections because of SYMPHATY VOTES…Go forward and have Espino jailed and Braganza will get double whammy in the election…Mayor Ordona should think twice because now, he claims that the Governor used him..At least he got his rewards for quite a time…The LP is now using you with no assurance of just compensation…..

  • Malasiqui Boy

    Mark, the issue is your governor is accused of being a jueteng lord. Espino is a jueteng lord and a warlord, too! How can a mayor harass a governor? 

    The accusations against Espino can be proved!Espino should refute the accusations. He cannot dismiss it by saying politics is behind it!

  • graciano82

    Always and ever in Philippine setting whenever a high political man is accused of high crimes his/her political allies have ready replies which is harassment an overused word in this genre of Filipino Politics with sly intent to cast the shadow of doubt on the reading public yet with greater hope of exoneration once the bait was taken hook line and sinker.

  • kalikasanipagtanggol

    Your governor mr. cojuangco does not only pray to the lord but also working with the lord (DRUG LORD)

  • juan_liwanag

    If the President would allow this accusation and counter-accusation to remain just that – then we would be back to square one and the “Daang Matuwid” route would go bankrupt. Both explanations so far expressed here have no merit – to say that Braganza has no chance against Espino is to say that there is no democracy in Pangasinan and that it is not the people that decide election there. The election should decide this question and not the candidates. The other position that behind the accusation against Espino is just politics is simply asking that the investigation should not continue. Of course it should so the people would know the truth. If Espino has nothing to do with illegal gambling in Pangasinan he should be exonerated of the charge. But if he is guilty as charged, then he should be convicted. This is the only way by which the province and the country could go forward.  

  • Francis81

    Di pa rin ba bati si Pweenoy at sina Mark at Charlie Cojuangco? Tiyak magagalit si uncle Danding dito. Naku marami pa namang nalalaman si uncle Danding tungkol kay Pweenoy!

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos