Provincial PNP chief sacked: DILG probes P’sinan gov on jueteng mess

>> Saturday, December 29, 2012

PANGASINAN- Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas has created a panel to look into the accusations against Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino which included getting payoffs of P900 million form jueteng even as the provincial police chief was sacked Wednesday for failure to stop the illegal numbers game.  

Roxas has tapped Undersecretary for Administration Rafael Santos to lead the investigating body with members including Undersecretary for Local Government Austere Panadero and the DILG Legal Service.

Roxas also revealed that the panel has sent a letter of request to the Anti-Money Laundering Council, Bureau of Internal Revenue and other government agencies to check on Espino’s financial records.

 “Well, we can say that there is a lifestyle check. if Gov. Espino’s lifestyle matched with his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN). Reports had it that he received P900 million, so where is the money,” he said.

Meanwhile, Senior Supt. Mariano Luis Verzosa Jr., who took over as OIC police director last July, was fired from his post and transferred to the Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

His relief order was signed by Director Elpidio de Asis, personnel and records management chief of the Philippine National Police. 

Verzosa was replaced by Senior Supt. Manolito Labrador, deputy director for operations of the Region 1 police, in an acting capacity.

Sources said the jueteng controversy had something to do with Verzosa’s relief.

Other sources, however, said he lost his post as his daughter Ma. Andrea Verzosa-Meneses is running for re-election as councilor of this capital town.

Last week, Bugallon town Mayor Rodrigo Orduña, a confessed jueteng operator, surfaced and accused Espino of receiving protection money from the illegal numbers game. He subsequently filed a plunder case against Espino before the Office of the Ombudsman.

Following the exposé, Interior and Local Government Mar Roxas was reported to have ordered the relief of police chiefs in this province.    But no official order was received by the provincial police as of Wednesday.

Verzosa could not be reached for comment. Hours before his relief though, he told reporters that police officers like him must be ready to lose their post any time.

In a media forum in Dagupan City Wednesday, Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza, from whom Orduña sought help prior to his exposé, said the jueteng issue may be politically motivated because the illegal numbers game is politically tolerated.

Braganza is running for governor under the Liberal Party against re-electionist Espino of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).

Braganza said it is the most convenient way for an official under attack like Espino to claim that the allegation is politically motivated.

“But to us, when we are under attack by the governor’s supporters, the media included, we roll with the punches,” he said.

He added that Espino should not be onion-skinned about the allegations against him.

Both Braganza and his running mate, retired PNP chief Arturo Lomibao, admitted the jueteng issue against Espino works to their advantage. 

“Ric (Orduña) has a mind of his own, maybe he has matured in politics the way he looks at things. That’s beyond personal consideration so let’s give it to him on what will happen to this issue, so be it. Everybody has a day in court,” Lomibao said.

Braganza said there has been no jueteng in Alaminos for many years. “I am not moralizing on it. It is our own personal conviction,” he said.

Espino has tapped a pool of 12 prominent lawyers not only to defend him in the plunder case but also to run after his political rivals who are behind the “smear campaign” against him.

Lawyer Abraham Espejo, Espino’s lead legal counsel Abraham Espejo, yesterday said Espino instructed them to prepare criminal actions against his “political enemies who bankrolled the smear campaign against him in time for next year’s midterm elections.”

Espino’s camp believes that his “overwhelming election” in previous polls and his “exemplary record” as a government official and police officer could be reason behind the black propaganda linking him to jueteng operations.

 “Recent surveys show that Gov. Espino is leading by a very big margin over his opponent,” Espejo said.

He added that Espino will remain as a loyal member of the NPC and will continue to support the ruling coalition of President Aquino.

Espejo is a known lawyer of the Iglesia Ni Cristo. He is joined in the legal team by lawyers Alexis Medina, Citedina Magno-Zarate, Nancy Ocampo-Omatdo, Madel Villaroman-Fiel, Allen Blair Boy, Janice Regoso, Salvador Medialdea, Loreto Ata, Zann Paolo Pacificador, Lorna Imelda Suarez, and Alexander Poblador, a known lawyer of Sen. PanfiloLacson.

Meanwhile, the ruling Liberal Party (LP) may be out to remove Espino in the wake of accusations he is involved in jueteng, the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) said yesterday.

Valenzuela City Rep. Rex Gatchalian, NPC spokesman, said the allegations against Espino, who belongs to the coalition, could be attributed to politics.

The ruling LP and NPC have forged an agreement to support a common senatorial candidate in next year’s elections. However, such an agreement does not extend to the local level.

President Aquino had advised Espino Jr. to stop complaining about alleged political harassment and just face squarely the plunder charges filed against him over his alleged involvement in jueteng.

Aquino made this suggestion through presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, who also shot down insinuations that the Aquino administration is harassing Espino, a political ally from the Nationalist People’s Coalition.

“As we have said and mentioned, politics is not involved when it comes to this particular case of Gov. Espino. We encourage him to just answer the charges against him in the proper forum,” she said over state-run radio station dzRB. 

This, as Orduña Wednesday urged Espina to show a copy of his SALN to prove that he got his earnings from businesses and not from jueteng payola.

In a press conference here, Orduña, also dared Espino to undergo a lie detector test along with him.

Orduña stood firm in his allegations that Espino had received as much as P900 million in jueteng payola until his falling out with the governor. He has admitted being an operator of the illegal numbers game.

Orduña said after graduating from the Philippine Military Academy, Espino had been a government employee until he retired as Region 1 police director and got elected as congressman and governor.

He said it is normal for Espino to deny the accusations, adding though that he has other witnesses who could corroborate what he stated in his sworn affidavit in the plunder case he filed against the governor at the Office of the Ombudsman.

Orduña and his supporters paid a courtesy call on Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas before the press conference.

Meanwhile, Braganza advised Espino to “look at the mirror and see who’s to blame for the jueteng mess in Pangasinan.”

In a statement, the LP in Pangasinan quoted Braganza as saying that Espino should stop from blaming everybody for the unhampered operations of jueteng and other illegal numbers games in the province.

“First, he is blaming the mayors of Pangasinan for issuing permits for jai alai which is now the cover of jueteng operations in the province. Later, he started pointing his finger at me as the source of his political problems,” Braganza said.

Citing Orduña’s allegations, Braganza said it was Espino who elevated the status of jueteng activities in Pangasinan from “guerrilla-type” to “province-wide and centralized” operations. 

Orduña, who said he used to be a trusted political lieutenant of Espino, filed a plunder case against the governor for allegedly receiving about P900 million in protection money from jueteng and other illegal numbers games in the province.

Orduña’s allegations were corroborated by Fernando Alimagno alias Boy Bata, the PDP-Laban mayoral candidate in Candelaria, Quezon, who admitted that he was one of the biggest operators of jueteng and jai alai in Pangasinan.

Orduña alleged that Espino cajoled him into forming a partnership so they could take over jueteng operations in Pangasinan immediately after the latter was elected governor in 2007.           

Espino has denied the allegations, which he dismissed as “politically motivated” and “an old issue.”

But Braganza said Espino has the habit of using the term “politically motivated” every time he would be linked to illegal activities such as black sand mining and quarrying or would carry out “anti-people” policies such as the 300 percent increase in real property tax.

On Wednesday, Orduña told media that the governor should also show proof of his business enterprises, if any, from which he has earned his riches.


This, as the Pangasinan Mayors’ League (PML) and the SangguniangPanlalawigan (Provincial Council) expressed Wednesday their full support and confidence in the integrity and leadership of Espino.

The president of the Pangasinan Mayors League, Dasol Mayor Noel Nacar, led those who signed the manifesto during an emergency meeting at the Capitol Resort Hotel here Monday.

Those who signed the manifesto included mayors Alfonso Celeste (Bolinao), Carlitos Reyes (Mabini), John Rodney Arcinue (Sual), Jose Pajeta (Agno), Alberto Guiang (Burgos), AldrinCerdan (Anda), Lorenzo Cerezo (Binmaley), Eduardo Ballesteros (Aguilar), Ernesto Castañeda Jr. (Lingayen), Mark Roy Macanlalay (Calasiao), JulierResuello (San Carlos City) and CarlitoZaplan (Sta. Barbara).

Irene Libunao (San Fabian), Herminio Romero  (Mangaldan),  SilverioAlarcio (Laoac), Manuel Collado (Alcala), Mina Joy Pangasinan (Sison), Amado Espino III (Bautista), Phillip Peralta (Umingan), Eldred Tumbocon (San Nicolas), LeoncioSaldivar III (Sta. Maria) and Teodoro Ramos (San Manuel) also signed the manifesto. 

Vice Mayor Virgilio Vallarta of Infanta town, who filed his certificate of candidacy for mayor with Mayor Ruperto Martinez, who was killed  last Dec. 15, as his running mate, was also present during the meeting. 


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