Dagupan City (24 September) — “Hindi hospital ang Kapitolyo, kung may sakit dapat dalhin sa hospital.”
Gov. Amado T. Espino, Jr. made this terse statement Tuesday as he chided his predecessor for the traditional manner he had accommodated visitors at the Capitol particularly at the governor’s office and acted on their various requests to include medicines, monoblock chairs and GI sheets.
Espino, who before allowed his men to speak in his behalf on criticisms aired against his administration, took center stage Tuesday in the newly-launched Lingguhang Talakayan sa Kapitolyo at the Narciso Ramos Sports and Civic Center function room. Flanked by all department heads to include hospital chiefs, Espino answered point by point the four major issues raised against him by former Gov. Victor E. Agbayani, now second district congressman.
The governor was so incensed by the claim that his reign looked like a martial law and democracy was already dead at the provincial Capitol. “Undemocratic ba na inayos natin ang traffic dito sa Capitol? Undemocratic ba na magreport ang mga empleyado 8 to 5 at alisin yong mga nakapayroll lamang na hindi nagtatrabaho? Undemocratic ba na di dapat maglakad sa grass at may inilaang sidewalk?”
He said he wondered what his detractors meant when they talked about democracy. “What democracy were they talking about?,” he asked even as he stressed that he could readily talk about democracy himself having fought for it by fighting communist insurgents during his days at the defunct Philippine Constabulary and also when he joined the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM).
On the issue of his being unreachable at the Capitol, he said that he is always present except when he is abroad. “I’m a 24/7 governor,” he said. He clarified that the “One-Day Governor” tag on his predecessor did not come from him. “I never said that,” he stressed, even as he balked on the term “Nevernor” being attributed to him.
He said that he cannot do what Agbayani did during his time as regards entertaining visitors and constituents on a scheduled day in a week. He said that he follows his appointments to the letter. Other matters which the various departments can handle are forwarded to them. “I have better things to do,” he said, adding that he disliked the idea of many people lining up at the governor’s office just to submit their various requests like mono block chairs, bags of cement, etc. “Hindi ko talaga gagawin yan,” he said.
Espino, who had served Pangasinan as police provincial director, said that peace and order remained his top priority along with health, education and agriculture. He recalled that during his time the province was cited two times as the best provincial police command.
Serving as proof that Pangasinan remains one of the more peaceful provinces in the country, he said, was the decision of the Philippine Army to pull out its detachments. “Ibig sabihin kaya na nating pangalagaan ang peace and order dito sa lalawigan. Hindi aalisin ang mga yan kung di estabilisado and situasyon dito,” he noted.
On the recent spate of killings, he said that the police cannot watch all 2.7 million Pangasinesnes. “Di natin mapigian yang pagpatay pero records will show na tahimik pa rin dito sa atin,” he said.
Espino likewise reacted negatively to the claim that he only repainted the Capitol and nearby buildings. He said that the Capitol compound looked very different now when compared to the past. He also said that the various government hospitals which were in a state of disrepair before have either been renovated or are being repaired, along with construction or addition of new buildings and facilities.
Asking the media to help elevate the campaign on a high level, Espino said he agree to a suggestion that he and Agbayani engage in a debate. “Why not sponsor that … kahit saan,” he said.
Agbayani has announced that he will fight Espino in the coming gubernatorial election.
The media forum will become a regular feature to present the programs and projects of the various departments. (PIA Pangasinan)