Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Cojuangco’s scores Espino’s SOPA: Rehash, Unrealistic


By Mortz C. Ortigoza

LINGAYEN – Former Pangasinan 5th District Congressman Mark Cojuangco was not impressed by Governor Amado T. Espino, Jr. state of the province’s address (SOPA) last Wednesday.
IMPRESSION. Pangasinan gubernatorial candidate Mark Cojuangco told reporters at the Capitol ground last Wednesday his impression of the State of the Province Address (SOPA) of Governor Amado T. Espino, Jr. MORTZ C. ORTIGOZA

 Cojuangco, who was among the thinning crowd who attended the SOPA, said the speech of the governor was a rehash of his last two SOPAS.
State of the province address is where the governor showed before members of the provincial board, mayors, other elective and non -elective officials, and his constituents who gathered at the Capitol ground what he had accomplished as elective official after he was re-elected in May 2013.
The former solon is pitted with the son and namesake of the last term Espino for the governorship of the almost three million people populated province.
Cojuangco scored Espino’s, a former ally, shortcomings in his nine years as chief executive of Pangasinan.
The former three-term congressman of the 5th District of Pangasinan cited the lack of roads in the province and the suspicious transaction that shrouded them.
“Umutang ang probinsiya (at) siya ng napakalaki at hindi naman tayo nagkakaroon ng bagong kalsada. Ang pagkalapad ng ibang kalsada natin wala pa sa tamang sukat. Marami tinangal na kalsada hangang semento na inaaspaltuhan pa, ewan ko bakit iyon ba para magpakita ng impression, (He borrowed huge amount but we could not see new roads from that debt. The width of the roads was not on the government standard specification. Concrete roads were removed and replaced with asphalt, was he tried to make impression?)” stressed by Cojuangco who was known to be a stickler of details on road construction when he was congressman.
A high official of the National Irrigation Administration told Northern Watch before that the solon was the only congressman in his time and in Region 1 who decline to get S.O.P, euphemism for the 20%  cut, in every million of pesos of project given to him by private contractors.
Cojuangco, whose arrival at the SOPA, surprised many spectators despite being a regular attendee of the yearly event after Espino became governor in 2007. He was joined later at his seat located at the middle of the crowd of village officials by his vice gubernatorial tandem Calasiao Mayor Roy Macanlalay.
FEW MAYORS. Four Pangasinan mayors form a queue before they ascend to the stairs of Provincial Capitol for the customary shake hand with Governor Amado T. Espino, Jr. after he delivered his final SOPA last Wednesday before his term ends on June 30.
The four  white barong clad mayors in this photo are (from right) Bayambang Mayor Ricardo Camacho, Bugallon Mayor Jumel Anthony Espino, Malasiqui Mayor Armando Domantay, San Fabian Mayor Danny Agbayani, and Urbiztondo Mayor Raul Martin Sison.

He said Espino mentioned about numbers and lengths of irrigation canals constructed under his administration but he rebutted his data because those projects were funded by the national government.
“Ang alam ko ang gumastos sa malaki sa irigasyon ay ang ating gobiyerno nasyonal (What I know the one that fund the construction of irrigation canals is the national government)”
The national government through the Agno River Irrigation System Extension Project (ARISEP) of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) is expected to irrigate 12,894 hectares of farm lands in several towns in the 5th and 6th Districts. 
Since 2014, Pangasinan has 102,628 hectares of irrigated farm lands.

He said with all those almost a billion of pesos of loans borrowed by the Espino Administration from the government bank, flooding in many towns and cities in the mammoth province have not been solved.

“May pagkukulang pa rin sa pagbabaha sa (inaudible) ang ating (government), napakaraming utang , dapat nabigyan ng malaking pansin (The provincial government has shortcomings on the unabated flooding, it should give attention to it)”.
This year’s SOPA was Espino’s valedictory address where he used it to show case his accomplishment in his almost nine years’ stint as governor of Pangasinan.
Customarily, the SOPA was attended by the mayors of the 44 towns and three cities' province. But after Espino and loyalists bolted out from the Nationalist People’s Coalition, where Cojuangco was the provincial chairman, only a handful of mayors have been attending the February's provincial event.
The last SOPA saw allies San Fabian Mayor Constante Agbayani, Bugallon Mayor Jumel Anthony Espino, Urbiztondo Mayor Raul Martin Sison, Bayambang Mayor Ricardo Camacho, Bautista Mayor Deo Espino, Malasiqui Mayor Armando Domantay, Mangatarem Teddy Cruz, and others forming a queue to shake hand with the governor.

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