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MANILA, Philippines – Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza said he would have been willing to “cancel all appointments” to sign a peace covenant for clean and honest elections with his rival re-electionist Gov Amado Espino Jr -- had he been invited.
Braganza said Thursday, March 28 he was “amused” over the fact that organizers chose not to invite him to the covenant signing.
“I asked my staff to check if there was any invitation. None by mail, e-mail, fax, phone call or text message. Even in my Facebook account, there is no invitation for that peace covenant signing,” Braganza said.
Espino skipped the covenant signing by choice. In a letter to the chairman of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) in Pangasinan, Espino said he was “afraid the peace covenant signing would only serve to legitimize the violations and abuses of some PNP officials and deceitful candidates and provide them with the perfect cover-up for their devious schemes.”
Authorities have filed murder and plunder charges against Espino, who has cried political harassment over the accusations. A candidate of the Nationalist People's Coalition, he is locked in a one-on-one gubernatorial fight with Braganza of the ruling Liberal Party.
Stop the blame
Braganza chided Espino for refusing to sign the peace pact, saying that the governor should stop blaming him for the cases he is facing in court.
“Gov. Espino was charged in the Ombudsman by barangay kagawads for the black sand mining in Lingayen. He was charged with plunder by his former friend and ally for involvement in jueteng operations. He was implicated in political killings by a boy, who is a son of his publicist and political operator. Why blame me?” Braganza said.
“Gov. Espino is always looking for someone to blame every time the long arm of the law catches up on him. As I’ve said before: if he wants to know who is behind all these legal problems, just look at himself at the mirror,” he added.
The National Bureau of Investigation's witness in its murder case against Espino over the death of Infanta Mayor Ruperto Martinez is the 16-year-old son of Pangasinan-based newspaper publisher Jaime Aquino. Braganza said Aquino is Espino's political operator.
Pangasinan has the 3rd highest voters' population among provinces. Aside from being tagged as one of 15 most "high risk" areas for poll-related violence, Pangasinan will be the most closely monitored province in the Ilocos Region in the coming election, according to the Philippine National Police. - Rappler.com
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