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FOR HIS DAMAGING STATEMENTS: Whistleblower faces backlash

By Manuel T. Ugalde

For steadfastly refusing to disclose individuals involved in the alleged jueteng payola over the past three years, the local media in Albay has portrayed the former capitol employee negatively. This focus intensified when he singled out the incumbent provincial governor as the sole figure in his accusations.

The controversial Alwyn Nimo, former Sanguniang Kabataan and barangay chairman of Barangay Anislag, Daraga, Albay, claimed responsibility for the jueteng operation during Governor Al Francis Bichara and Vice Governor Edcel Grex Lagman’s terms. Nimo was rumored to be closely associated with a former governor linked to the tainted Mayon quarry operation, involving numerous quarry operators supplying materials to various regions.

Recently, Nimo alleged graft against Gov. Edcel Grex Lagman regarding the jueteng operation, providing evidence of bank deposit slips from Lagman’s vice governor period. However, Nimo refrained from disclosing additional names involved in the jueteng activity, leaving mainstream and social media puzzled. This news led to the dismissal of Albay police provincial director Fernando Cunanan Jr. due to media attacks on the jueteng issue.

Pressed by the media to reveal more names, Nimo declined to implicate the former governor and Col. Fernando Cunanan, emphasizing only Lagman’s involvement. During the 2022 election, Gov. Bichara and Vice Gov. Lagman ran together, but Bichara failed in his reelection bid.

Over the past six years, the Albay jueteng operation incurred substantial losses for the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office lotto operation, as declared by the provincial board.

Nimo claimed he filed a case against Lagman before the Ombudsman, labeled as politically motivated by the governor, who counter-sued Nimo. Reports suggest that the governorship might be contested by Lagman and Congressman Joey Salceda, with Nimo’s allegations seen as a separate political force backed by strong congressional leadership.

In response to Nimo’s refusal to name names, some mainstream journalists demonized the whistleblower, echoing Colonel Cunanan’s statements. Reports indicate that several local media members, including those supportive of the capitol, were implicated in the jueteng payola.

Concerns arose about Nimo’s credibility, prompting retired police colonel Diego Lopez to assert that Nimo should courageously name names, given the scrutiny and demonization he now faces for allegedly protecting his associates in the police, LGUs, and the media. A group of mainstream journalists, including Jess Bariso of Radio Veritas and this writer, strongly demands the whistleblower to reveal names. Retired human rights commission officer Professor Salvador Flor urged the Human Rights Commission Office in the region to investigate Nimo’s refusal, claiming it has harmed the innocent, including the press institution.

Recalling a visit by then Philippine National Police chief and now Senator Bato Dela Rosa in 2017, the official acknowledged rampant jueteng operation in Bicol under the Duterte administration. Dela Rosa emphasized the administration’s focus on drugs and justified jueteng as a source of livelihood for the poor, benefiting the media. However, he did not respond to a query about naming journalists involved in the jueteng payola.


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