Mayor: Politics behind complaint

“POLITICALLY motivated” was how Santa Fe town Mayor Ithamar Espinosa described the filing of charges against him before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas.

Santa Fe Municipal Councilor Joan Nepangue filed complaints for criminal harassment, workplace bullying, unjust vexation and grave abuse of authority against Espinosa.

In her affidavit complaint, Nepangue detailed how Espinosa harassed her and her employee after the employee’s live-in partner and children were injured in a hit-and-run incident involving the mayor’s nephew on Sept. 19, 2019.

She alleged that the waiter in their beach resort, Ronald Autencio, informed her that night that his live-in partner, Marivic Ariesgado, was injured when the motorcycle she and her children were riding was hit by a vehicle driven by RapRap Zaspa.

Zaspa, the son of Pooc, Santa Fe Barangay Captain Rafaelita Espinosa Zaspa, allegedly sped off leaving the injured victims on the road.

Due to the impact, two of the victim’s toes were cut off. Her children were also hurt.

The police tracked down Zaspa and was brought to the police station.

Arriesgado also proceeded to the police station and was met there by Nepangue, who is also her employer.

While the investigation was ongoing, Espinosa reportedly arrived with his bodyguards and was later joined by Barangay Captain Zaspa, who started scolding Arriesgado.

“Mga yawa kamo! Nganong inyong gi-detain akong anak?” Nepangue quoted the village chief as saying in her affidavit.

Zaspa also reportedly asked the police why her son was detained when no one died in the incident while the motorcycle driver, who allegedly did not have a license, was not invited to the police station.

On their way home, Nepangue said the mayor’s vehicle tailed them at full speed. She said they drove off in fear because the mayor was accompanied by several men.

She also alleged that during a meeting with town officials on Oct. 9, Espinosa confronted and humiliated her in front of everyone about her encounter with his nephew.

“My family holds a grudge against you because you sent my nephew to jail,” the mayor reportedly told her.

Nepangue said she now fears for her safety.

But for Espinosa, the councilor is only politicizing the incident.

“It’s clearly political. Maybe she is still bitter about the results of the 2016 elections,” Espinosa told SunStar Cebu in a phone interview Tuesday night, Nov. 12, 2019.

Espinosa and Nepangue faced off in the May 2016 elections for the vice mayoral seat. Espinosa defeated Nepangue by 1,404 votes.

He suspected that the charges filed against him were intended to mar his credibility as a public official. (RTF, AYB, BBT, LRC)