>> Monday, December 20, 2010
BAGUIO CITY – There is still no concerted action from the Philippine National Police to stop rampant illegal gambling like jueteng in northern Luzon despite opposition of cause-oriented groups like the church, sources said.
Jueteng operators are reportedly raking in money in northern Luzon like Region 1 and the Cordillera particularly Baguio and Benguet.
Anti-jueteng groups said no police chief had been relieved in areas where jueteng abound under the “one strike policy” of the Philippine National Police.
The policy mandates any police chief found remiss in his duties for jueteng operations under his turf would be relieved.
But last Monday, in Camp Oscar Florendo, San Fernando City, La Union, Chief Supt. Franklin Jesus Bucayu, chief of the human rights affairs office in Camp Crame, assumed as new director of the Region 1 police, as approved by President Aquino.
Bucayu, a Philippine Military Academy class of 1981, replaced Chief Supt. Orlando Mabutas after being chosen from among the more than 20 police generals who vied for the position.
With the reported resumption of jueteng in Region 1 Mabutas said a month earlier he was verifying reports.
He said police officers where jueteng was found would be relieved from their posts in accordance with the one-strike policy.
But even the day before Bucayo assumed his post, Mabutas didn’t confirm or deny the existence of jueteng in the Ilocos Region particularly Pangasinan.
Bucayo, in assuming office said, “One of the major thrusts of my term is to continue strengthening police-community partnership to achieve maximum synergy of efforts.”
“We will keep performing with renewed vigor our mandate to provide a safe and secure environment for the people, an environment that is favorable to economic and progress,” he said.
Bucayo however didn’t mention if he would start a no-nonsense drive against jueteng.
Before his assignment as Crame’s human rights affairs chief, Bucayu served as La Union police director in 2007-2009 and PRO1 chief-of-staff in late 2009.
In the Cordillera, there had also been no relief of police officers in areas where jueteng thrived particularly in Baguio and Benguet.
In Benguet jueteng is now rampant in the towns of La Trinidad, Buguias and Mankayan.
A jueteng operator based in La Trinidad where draws are reportedly held, reportedly increased bet collectors known as kubradors who are now gathering wagers in Baguio.
The kubradors reportedly use a list of jai-alai games as props but have separate sheets for jueteng bets.
Sources said jueteng had been running for almost a month in most northern Luzon areas despite denials of government officials and police chiefs.
In Baguio, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement, United Methodist Church and students marched down Session Road to City Hall early this month to press officials to stop illegal gambling.
Rallyists, headed by Roman Catholic Bishop Carlito Cenzon and former city mayor Braulio Yaranon said they were opposing rampant gambling – legal or illegal -- in Baguio and Benguet like jueteng, lotto, bingo, tong-it, jai-alai among others.
“Gambling is not only prohibited by the law but it is also prohibited by the law of God," said Yaranon who was also a former regional trial court judge.
Cenzon said gambling should be stopped as it is a sin to God and makes life miserable for the bettor and his family.
City Mayor Mauricio Domogan said he was against illegal gambling.
But anti-gambling residents said to date, kubradors were still going their merry ways since city police were not arresting them.
Task Force Jupiter, earlier formed by Domogan to stop illegal gambling in the city, had become inutile as no arrests of kubradors were being made, residents said.
In Baguio for the past weeks, jueteng operators resurrected the illegal numbers game by holding draws near Malcolm Square at the central business district at the foot of Session Road.
The operators claimed it was bingo, but members of Task Force Jupiter raided the area and found no bingo materials.
Bettors said the illegal game came to be known as |bingoteng.”
This, as reports reaching the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office said gambling lords have intensified their jueteng operations using results of Small Town Lotteries, jai alai or their own draws in their respective localities in Luzon,
Sources said STL-jueteng operations were rampant in Angeles City, Bataan and Bulacan.
Among the suspected jueteng fronts are big gaming corporations identified with known gambling lords in Luzon.
The continued jueteng operations under the guise of STL has resulted to big loss of sales of the legal numbers game in various parts of Luzon.
Jueteng lords were reportedly able to secure franchises for the STL, which practically shielded them from police raids because of the legality of their businesses.
Some of the gaming corporations were reportedly able to get permit to operate up to 2013, which was, approved by the previous management of the PCSO.
The renewed operations of the illegal numbers game came as the new PCSO board headed by chairman Margie Juico finalizes the review of the STL operations in various parts of Luzon.
The review is being conducted with the help of the Department of Interior and Local Government, which has the list of all known gambling lords across the country.
Aside from the STL, gambling lords, are also using the results of jai-alai games played inside the Cagayan Freeport Zone Authority in Port Irene in Cagayan.
Atong Ang reportedly operates the jail-alai with the consent of Freeport authorities.
The jai-alai has resulted to the operation of masiao in Visayas and Mindanao, which gets its result from the Cagayan Freeport.
The masiao, a three-digit game combination from one to nine is popular in Visayas and Mindanao particularly in Cebu, competing with the minor online lotto games such as EZ 2 and the three-digit games of the PCSO.
The operations of jai-alai, however, is beyond the jurisdiction of the PCSO and other government agencies because it’s operating inside the Freeport Zone.
“Masiao illegal numbers game will continue to thrive with the jai-alai operations in Cagayan” a PCSO official lamented.
In Lingayen, Pangasinan, Archbishop Oscar Cruz earlier dared President Aquino to totally stop jueteng in the country which he said, is now rampant in Region 1.
Cruz, who chairs the Krusada ng Bayan Laban sa Jueteng (People’s Crusade Against Jueteng) said all the President had to do to stop jueteng was tell concerned government officials including the police: “Stop jueteng!”
Still in Pangasinan, sources said jueteng has now “comfortably returned” in all six districts considering that no arrests have been made on kubradors or operators.
A certain Orduna allegedly gave the go-signal for jueteng operators in the six districts to resume operations.
A certain “Boy Bata” allegedly operates jueteng in Binmaley, Lingayen, Bugallon and San Fabian towns and Dagupan City.
A certain Mallorca reportedly operates in Bayambang, Malasiqui, Mangaldan, Manaoag and Mapandan towns.
Another jueteng operator identified as a certain Co reportedly operates in the fifth district.
In the sixth district, a certain Marlon is reportedly the jueteng boss.
In Aguilar, Mangatarem, Urbiztondo and Basista towns, jueteng is reportedly under a certain Sison.
A certain Bebot is reportedly the operator in Villasis, Sto. Tomas, Alcala,Bautista and Carmen towns.
According to sources, daily jueteng bets in the six districts of Pangasinan reach P10 million but the amount could become higher with the yuletide season.
Despite these, provincial police director Senior Supt. Rosueto Ricaforte told local newsmen with a straight face, “There is no jueteng in Pangasinan.” -- With reports from Genevieve Pacheco, Jerry Padilla, Jennelyn Mondejar and Armand Tamaray