|Abono Party list chairman Rosendo So (R) and Pres. Benigno Aquino|
The Nationalist People's Coalition has slammed political rivals for resorting to "political harassment and machinations" after the National Bureau of Investigation filed a complaint for murder against its party stalwarts -- Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino Jr. and Pangasinan 1st District Rep. Jesus Celeste -- for the death of Infanta Mayor Ruperto Martinez. "We are very dismayed over these petty tactics against our candidate.
It is becoming too obvious to the public that these are machinations for their own political interests," NPC provincial chairman and former Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco said. Abono party-list chairman Rosendo So described the murder charges as "impossible and improbable," even as he called on Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to order the NBI to conduct a re-investigation of the allegation against Gov. Espino and Cong. Celeste immediately. "Martinez is an ally of Governor Espino and Cong. Celeste. Mayor Martinez consistently delivered votes to the NPC. It is impossible for his allies to order his murder," So noted. "The NBI must re-investigate this case. This is not a joke. If they are training their guns on Gov. Espino, they will allow the real mastermind to get away and justice will not be served," So said. The NPC is engaged in a coalition with the Liberal Party of President Benigno Aquino III, but only for senatorial candidates. "We are standing by our candidate. It is very clear that this is just character assassination," Cojuangco said. Martinez was killed in front of his house on December 15 last year, and alleged killers Ricardo Legarda and Richard Manuel are currently detained at the Pangasinan provincial jail in Lingayen. Cojuangco said political opponents first tried to implicate Espino in alleged jueteng operations in the province. "But when the jueteng allegations did not stick, they are now trying to drag him into this murder case. Is it because they cannot defeat Gov. Espino in a legitimate electoral exercise?" Cojuangco said. "Gov. Espino told me he is being harassed. I told him politics is really like that - it is dirty and some resort to desperate measures if they know they cannot defeat their opponent," he added.