|Former police sergeant Orduna (L) and retired Colonel Espino (R)|
The town of Bugallon made him congressman, then Pangasinan governor.
But Bugallon residents are now disappointed with their adopted son, Amado Espino Jr, and now want Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza to be their Governor.
This campaign pitch by Bugallon Mayor Ric Orduña has convinced Braganza, the Liberal Party’s gubernatorial candidate, to include Bugallon in the three Pangasinan towns where he starts his grassroots electoral campaign dubbed “Lakbay Pangasinan, Lakbay Pagbabago.”
Braganza and his running mate Arturo Lomibao formally kicked off their electoral campaign today (April 1) with barangay sorties and town hall meetings in the towns of Urbiztondo, Mangatarem and Bugallon, hoping to deliver their messages directly to voters even in far-flung barrios.
Braganza explained that the Liberal Party in Pangasinan would focus on grassroots campaigning as part of its efforts to reach the largest number of voters possible in the 45-day campaign period.
“Dito sa Bugallon nagsimula si Amado Espino sa pulitika. Dito rin namin siya ibabagsak,” said Orduña, a former friend and trusted political lieutenant of Gov. Espino.
Orduña has filed a criminal charge of plunder at the Ombudsman, accusing Gov. Espino of allegedly pocketing more than PhP900 million from the proceeds of jueteng and other illegal numbers games in Pangasinan.
Another former ally of Gov. Espino, Fernando Alimagno alias “Boy Bata,” has submitted his own affidavit at the Ombudsman’s office corroborating Orduña’s allegations. Alimagno confessed to being one of the country’s biggest jueteng operators.
Orduñas helped Espino launch his political career
Orduña narrated that Espino, after retiring from the police service, asked help from their family in 2001 to help him launch his political career in Bugallon. Espino, a native of Bautista town, reportedly wanted to run as congressman but could not do so in the Fifth District due to the political clout of the Cojuangcos.
“Inampon namin siya dito sa Bugallon para makatakbo siya bilang congressman ng Second District. Hindi raw siya kasi mananalo sa Fifth District dahil tiyak na ilalampaso siya ng mga Cojuangcoa doon,”
He said Espino registered as a voter in Bugallon even though he was not residing in the area at the time. Espino, he added, used a dilapidated warehouse in Barangay Portic as his official residence to qualify as a registered voter in Bugallon. “Tinulungan ng pamilya namin na manalo siya bilang congressman. Ginawa din namin ang lahat para manalo siyang gobernador,” the Bugallon mayor pointed out.
Despite their all-out support for Espino, Orduña said the governor never showed respect to their family, and even treated them with contempt. “Tulad ng maraming Pangasinense, sanay na kaming tawagin ni Gov (Espino) na ‘bakes’ (monkey),” Orduña said.
Orduña’s son mauled by Espino’s men
His disappointment with Espino reportedly came to a head when his son was mauled by the Governor’s men after an altercation in a basketball game. “Nag-away ang mga anak namin sa basketball pero imbis na awatin ang mga bata, ipinagulpi pa ang anak ko,” Orduña said.
That incident, he added, made him decide to disassociate himself from Espino and look for other candidates to support in the gubernatorial race. “Mabuti na lang at tumakbo si Nani Braganza dahil alam kong siya lang ang makakatalo kay Gov (Espino),” the Bugallon mayor said.
Orduña said he did not know Braganza personally until he joined the Liberal Party to run for vice mayor of Bugallon. Orduña has already served three terms as mayor.
Braganza has never taken jueteng bribes Orduña explained that he has chosen Braganza as his gubernatorial bet as he was aware of the Alaminos mayor’s accomplishments as a public servant, both in the national and local government. He also noted that Braganza was one of the few Pangasinan mayors who had never taken a bribe from jueteng and other forms of illegal gambling.
“Malaki ang paghanga ko kay Nani. Walang jueteng sa Alaminos dahil ayaw niyang tumanggap ng lagay. Malaki rin ang nakita kong pagbabago sa Alaminos mula nang maupo siya bilang mayor,” Orduña said (Pangasinan Muna).