A party mate of President Benigno Aquino in the House of Representative has filed a resolution seeking an investigation into jueteng after the illegal numbers game took the national spotlight once again.
The resolution, filed by Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, came less than a week after Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino Jr. was tagged as a jueteng operator by Bugallon Mayor Rodrigo Orduña. who is facing a Liberal Party candidate in next year’s elections.
But Evardone yesterday insisted that politics had nothing to do with the case against Espino, a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).
“We vehemently deny that LP is prosecuting non-LP governors. The LP has nothing to do with it. The investigation of Governor Espino is based on the complaint filed by a mayor against him on jueteng,” he said in a text message.
Another governor from a vote-rich province is also in trouble. The Office of the President has suspended for six months Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia for allegedly usurping the authority of her vice governor.
Evardone defended the Palace order, saying the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Office of the President merely acted on a complaint against her.
“There is nothing political in those two cases. The actions of the executive branch were based on valid complaints. The LP has nothing to do with it even as the LP supports the good governance agenda of President Aquino,” he said.
In his resolution, Evardone asked the appropriate House committee “to conduct an investigation into the jueteng operations in the country particularly those allegedly using legal franchises like the Small Town Lottery (STL), such as Meridien Vista Gaming Corp. operating in the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Free Port, and to recommend appropriate legislation.”
“As representatives of the Filipino people, every member of this august body has the duty to preserve the dignity and integrity of this institution and ensure moral well-being of our constituents and whole nation,” he said in House Resolution No. 2979.
The NPC earlier threw its support behind Espino in the face of allegations that he had received some P900 million in payoffs.
“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),” NPC spokesperson Rep. Rex Gatchalian had said.
“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.”