By Mortz C. Ortigoza
DAGUPAN CITY – A former ally of Pangasinan Governor Amado T. Espino, Jr. should have incriminated the latter as brain behind the multi-million pesos illegal number game jueteng but did not pursue it.
Abono Party List (APL) Chairman Rosendo So told reporters here last Tuesday that when jueteng baron Fernando "Boy Bata" Alimagno and then Bugallon Mayor Ric Orduna, Espino’s alleged jueteng bagman, sued him at the Ombudsman for plunder, the governor asked him to convince Bata to desist from the case in exchange of ten million pesos bribe.
“Ito ang masasabi ko Amado T. Espino, Jr. kung talagang gusto kitang kasuhan doon kay Boy Bata tinawag mo ako noon, sabi mo sa akin tawagan iyong kaibigan natin sa Isabela kung puwede para mag backed out si Boy Bata (This what I tell you Amado T. Espino, Jr. if I want to criminally charge you on the Boy Bata case I could have sued you. You asked me then to call our common friend in Isabela to convince Alimagno to backed out from the case),” the APL chairman declared.
He said he and the lawyer of the governor met with Bata in Manila.
As the illegal gambling baron told the APL chairman that because jueteng operation in Pangasinan had been being clamped down by authorities he bought Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation’s Jai Alai Kingpin Atong Ang to Espino.
As quid pro quo between Espino and Ang, the former promised Bata, according to So, two percent of the monthly revenue of Jai-Alai – a number game played just like jueteng.
“Kasi may commitment si Governor na two percent sa akin, sabi niya. Dati nakatangap kami ng sampung milyones (The governor promised me two percent. I used to earn ten million pesos a month when we were running jueteng),” Bata said.
But the governor, according to Alimagno, reneged on his promise to give him two percent of the proceeds from the game thus he exposed him as the jueteng lord in Pangasinan at a press conference in Manila.
“Sabi niya, bata nga pag iyong lollipop tinangal mo iiyak iyan. Kaya ako umiyak sa media,” So quoted Boy Bata.
In that Manila expose’ in December 14, 2012, Bata was joined by Orduna, then Secretary Mar Roxas of the Department of Interior & Local Government, and several brass of the police hierarchy.
In a sworn statement submitted at the Ombudsman, Orduña called Espino the "Big Boss" of jueteng in Pangasinan who received P800 to P900 million in jueteng money.
Because of So’s intervention, Alimagno backed out in the plunder case he jointly filed at the Ombudsman with Orduna against Espino.
A smarting So called the press conference at the Hotel Lenox here because the governor accused him, in a press conference the latter called, to be behind the indictment at the Ombudsman of the governor and then Provincial Administrator Raffy Barraan and then Provincial Engineer Alvin Bigay after they conspired for the illegal mining of the magnetite black sand in Lingayen town.
The APL chair said Espino should accused instead his former police sergeant Vicente C. Oliquino who complained him and his two officials at the government prosecution body with administrative and criminal cases.
Last month the Ombudsman resolved the malversation and violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti Graft & Corrupt Practices Acts) criminal complaint versus the governor and company.
The administrative case against Espino et al was for abuse of authority, neglect of duty, and violation of local government code.
Resolution of the criminal case, according to the Rules of Court, means submission of it at the Sandiganbayan for the issuance of warrant of arrest of the governor and co accused.
The threat of the warrant of arrest did not sit well with the governor who accused the APL Chairman of flaunting it at his media’s ally Violy Valdez of Aksyon Radyo.
“Ang problem naniniwala siya sa kuwento ni Violy, hinde naman ako na interview ni Violy. Sinamahan ko lang si (Senator and vice presidential bet) Chiz Escudero doon sa Aksyon Radyo nila kung ano na ang kinuwento sa kanya naniwala siya (The problem the governor bought hook, line, and sinker the narration of Violy. Violy did not interview me. I went to Aksyon Radyo with senator and vice presidential bet Chiz Escudero),” So told the reporters.