MANILA, Philippines – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas on Wednesday denied that the plunder charges against Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino Jr. is politically motivated.
"In fact hindi muna siya lumapit sa ehekutibo, lumapit muna siya sa Ombudsman, pagkatapos noon ay sa ehekutibo," Roxas told dzMM, referring to Bugallon Mayor Rodrigo Orduña who filed a plunder case against Espino for allegedly protecting and operating "jueteng" in Pangasinan.
Roxas issued this statement after the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), the coalition going head to head with the ruling Liberal Party in May 2013, raised suspicions on the timing of the filing of the charges.
In an earlier statement, UNA Secretary General Toby Tinagco said: "The 2013 election is just a few weeks away. 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."
Tiangco also said Pangasinan votes could help any presidential aspirant in the 2016 elections.
Espino is an official of the National People's Coalition. The LP is hoping to grab the gubernatorial seat in the province next year with Alaminos City Hernani Braganza.
Amid the allegations, Roxas assured that the government will follow the proper procedures in its investigation.
"Dadalhin natin ito sa lohikal na hantungan, and kung ang ebidensya ay nagpapakita na suspension is in order, iyan ang maaasahan niyo," he said.