LINGAYEN, Pangasinan—Lawyers of Gov. Amado Espino Jr. on Thursday said the governor has not received a notice to appear before the Office of the Ombudsman, where a plunder case was filed against him by Bugallon Mayor Rodrigo Orduña.
“Not all cases filed in the Ombudsman are meritorious. As a matter of fact, maybe about 60 percent of the cases filed are harassment suits. And this one filed against the governor is a pure harassment case,” Dean Abraham Espejo, lead counsel of Espino’s defense team, said at a news conference.
Espejo said Orduña “does not have a strong case against our client.” He described the accusations against Espino as “baseless and were concocted by Espino’s political opponents, who are trailing in the surveys.”
Orduña accused Espino in December of amassing about P900 million from operations of the illegal numbers game “jueteng” in the province in the last 10 years.
“We are confident that nothing (against Espino) will be proven in this case,” Espejo said. “I assure you our client is innocent of the charges against him. In fact, we pity him because his mother suffered a stroke. She could not take the accusations, which are all lies, against the governor.”
Espino’s mother, Victoriana Totaan Espino, 92, suffered a stroke on Dec. 31, 2012, and has been comatose in a hospital.
“The governor is here, managing the province very well despite the personal setbacks that he has suffered. But for the meantime, we’ll just pray that he will be okay,” Espejo said.
Espino is running for his third and last term under the Nationalist People’s Coalition against Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza of the Liberal Party.
Espejo said a Senate investigation report on jueteng in 2010 implicated Orduna as a “star suspect.”
“The governor was cleared at that time … But how can you be the star witness [now] when you are the star suspect? I repeat, in the Senate investigation report, [Orduña] is the star suspect. Now, he is the star witness. That’s not right,” Espejo said. Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon