|Rep. Arenas (L) and Governor Espinoc (C)|
By Mortz C. Ortigoza
DAGUPAN CITY – A congresswoman deplores the non show- up of major candidates in Pangasinan in a covenant for peace and cooperation called recently here by Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Commission on Election, and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting .
Rep. Maria Rachel Arenas (3rd District, Pangasinan) commiserate with the Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan archdiocese who spent time to organize the convergence of candidates to sign for a peaceful May 13, 2013 national and local elections.
Cosnpicously absent at the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist here last March 25, 2013 were Governor Amado T. Espino and his rival Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza
“Sa palagay ko iyong effort ni Archbishop (Villagas) they should not take it for granted. For the rest of the candidates I don’t know pero the fact that bishop took time which we need here I think we should (have heed it).,” lamented by Arenas. Except for Arenas, Representatives Leopoldo Bataoil( 2nd District, Pangasinan) and Kimi Cojuangco ( 5th District, Pangasinan) all of the three congressmen of the more than 1.6 million voters rich Pangasinan were not around, Most of the candidates of the 46 city and town mayors except Dagupan City Mayor Benjie S. Lim, and most candidates for the provincial, city, and municipal council did not show up too.
“Maybe they have their own reasons”, Braganza’s vice gubernatorial bet Arturo Lomibao said when asked if Espino and Braganza were not serious about the covenant for peace.
“I don’t think so naman siguro”, Lomibao quipped in the vernacular when asked if the non presence of most candidates were a mockery of the call of the church and Comelec for a peaceful election.
Vice Governor Ferdinan Calimlim, Lomibao’s rival for the vice gubernatorial race, attended the peace pact. Espino in his letter to lawyer Marino Salas and Fr. Morris Allan Abuan, provincial election supervisor of Pangasinan and chairman of the PPCRV- Pangasinan, respectively, said that he could not afford to attend because his opponent (Braganza) would breach anyway what would have been agreed.
“You are aware of the various acts of character assassination, well-orchestrated political demolition jobs, false and fabricated accusation, and harassment cases filed against this representation by our politicial opponent,” the governor stressed.
Braganza in an article in Rappler said he would have been willing to “cancel all appointments” to sign a peace covenant for clean and honest election with his rival Espino, Jr. had he been invited.
He was “amused” over the fact that organizers chose not to invite him to the covenant signing. “I asked my staff to check if there was any invitation. None by mail, e-mail, fax, phone call or text message. Even in my Facebook account, there is no invitation for that peace covenant signing,” Braganza said.
Excerpts of the significant portion of the texts of the Covenant for Peace and Cooperation that were simultaneously read by the candidates say “we agree to adhere and cooperate to the intentions and purposes of this covenant in ensuring for Clean, Honest Accountable, Meaningful and Peaceful (C.H.A.M.P) and Secure and Fair Elections (S.A.F.E) so that justice and freedom may reign not only in our locality during this political exercise, but in the whole country at all times. For this purpose, we agree to adhere and cooperate to the intentions and purposes of this covenant in ensuring for CHAMP, SAFE and hereby PLEDGE”.
Arenas, who gave way for her mother Rosemarie for the congressional race, said that she did not know why Espino and Braganza were absent. “Siguro baka may schedule silang iba or hindi natin masabi. Maybe you should ask them”.
A source who asked anonymity said the absence of the duo was due to the highly charged election atmosphere. He said it could be understandable that Espino and Braganza shun each other at this moment after both threw everything at each other including the proverbial kitchen sink.
“The previous two gubernatorial polls would be no match to the acrimony and dirty charges and counter charges lodged at each other by the supporters of the two rivals even months before the polls”.
The Espino camp suspected the camp of Braganza to be the brain in the illegal gambling game jueteng expose’ and the subsequent filling of plunder case against him at the Ombudsman by Bugallon Mayor Ricardo Orduna and the suspected trumped-up charges filled by one Jestin Aquino, a minor, at the Department of Justice blaming Espino as the master mind of the killing of the three political personalities in Pangasinan in the past.
The camp of Braganza likewise suspected too that the camp of Espino to be behind the plunder case filled by village chiefs at the Ombudsman of the allegedly unfinished and ghost projects of Mayor Braganza worth more than P4 billion pesos in Alaminos City