MANILA, Philippines - The Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) on Wednesday expressed support and reaffirmed its confidence with embattled Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino Jr. who has been implicated in illegal gambling operations.
NPC spokesperson Rep. Rex Gatchalian of Valenzuela said that the party led by businessman Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco, Jr. is solidly behind the governor.
He believes that Espino's name was dragged into the jueteng issue because they are just out to destroy his reputation.
Gatchalian raised the possibility that politics might be behind the expose against Espino.
The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) led by Vice-President Jejomar Binay and former President Joseph Estrada earlier expressed doubts on the reason behind the jueteng expose.
While UNA supports the campaign against jueteng, "the drive must be relentless and devoid of politics," UNA secretary-general Rep. Toby Tiangco said in a press statement.
"It should not be seasonal, nor should it be used for political ends," he said. "We wish the administration success in its campaign, but we believe it can really succeed if it takes away politics as a motive.
He claimed that the anti-jueteng campaign could be linked to the 2013 elections.
"The administration and the administration party headed by the DILG Secretary cannot escape suspicion that politics is one motivation for the sudden interest in jueteng in Pangasinan. They are fielding a candidate for governor who is admittedly a trusted lieutenant of the DILG Secretary in a vote-rich province dominated by the NPC," he said.
"Also, political control over Pangasinan is apparently important to anyone aspiring for higher office in 2016, and this includes the DILG Secretary," Tiangco said.
"The revelations of a whistleblower against the Pangasinan governor has given the DILG Secretary a convenient excuse to revamp the provincial police force, something he cannot immediately do by classifying the province as a high-risk area for the election, a classification that has been questioned by almost all incumbent local officials of Pangasinan," he said. - with a report from Jay Ruiz, ABS-CBN News