>> Wednesday, April 20, 2011
BAGUIO CITY – Despite the “one-strike” policy of the Philippine National Police, jueteng has now returned in almost all provinces of northern Luzon.
The “one-trike” policy stipulates that any police chief where jueteng operates could be relieved immediately from his post.
This time, religious and cause-oriented groups said the policy is a joke as no police chief had been
fired when the illegal numbers game is full-blast in almost all provinces of the Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Cordillera and Central Luzon regions.
Religious leaders like former Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz were vocal in saying that if police authorities and local government officials don’t allow jueteng in their turf, the illegal numbers game cannot operate.
But they, said, payolas are hard to resist if these run to thousands or millions of pesos.
In Baguio City, jueteng bet collectors are still openly defying an order of Mayor Mauricio Domogan to stop rampant operations here.
But sources said in some barangays like Guisad and Pinsao where local officials don’t allow it, jueteng is not operational unlike Sanitary Camp, Trancoville and other barangays where bet collectors openly collect along waiting sheds, sari-sari stores, or jeep terminals.
This, as the illegal numbers game is also full-blast in the nearby Benguet towns of La Trinidad, Tublay, Itogon, Tuba, Mankayan and Buguias.
A certain alias Boy Rusco is reportedly now behind the renewed jueteng operations in Baguio, La Trinidad, Tublay, Itogon and Tuba where collections are done while draws are conducted in La Trinidad.
Domogan had issued a memorandum to city police director David Lacdan, Department of Interior and Local Government Director Evelyn Trinidad and Public Order and Safety Division chief Fernando Moyaen to intensify campaign to curb the illegal numbers game.
But still, according to informants, those involved in jueteng are just laughing this out even if some kubradors were reportedly caught by police, charged and bailed out.
Sources said it is now a wonder why members of Task Force Jupiter, which was formed by Domogan to go after jueteng had not been doing their jobs of arresting bet collectors or operators.
Members of the task force include agencies which Domogan earlier issued the anti-gambling memorandum.
“Please be reminded of our previous agreement that station commanders will be relieved from their current positions once it will be confirmed that jueteng collections and draws are being done within your areas of jurisdiction,” he said.
In Pangasinan, at least 23 towns of the province are now operating jai-alai but the provincial police director said it is not being used as front for jueteng.
Senior Supt. Rosueto Ricaforte, Pangasinan police director, Thursday said he got reports three days earlier that the mayors of 23 towns have issued permits for jai-alai operations.
Ricaforte, however, said Gov. Amado Espino Jr. had nothing to do with the jai-alai operations, adding that an operator only needs to secure a mayor’s permit.
In the capital town of Lingayen alone, there are three jai-alai betting stations, he said.
Espino earlier said he had no hand in jai-alai operations in the province, explaining, too, that the mayors were the ones responsible for issuing permits.
Ricaforte belied claims that jai-alai was just being used as front for jueteng.
“You know, jai-alai is a legal online game. We checked that when they started. We found out that they have all the legal documents to operate,” he said.
As such, he said they could not do anything as they are only after jueteng, an illegal numbers game.
He added that jai-alai bet collectors wear uniforms and identification cards.
Ricaforte also denied that Meridien Vista Gaming Corp. is operating illegally in Pangasinan as its operations are supposedly confined to the Cagayan Export Zone Authority (CEZA), saying he has read a court order stating otherwise.
Secretary Antonio Villar Jr., chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board who hails from Pangasinan, warned mayors who granted permits to Meridien that they face serious trouble for doing so.
Villar said it is pathetic that some mayors are in a hurry to welcome jai-alai operations in their jurisdiction allegedly in exchange for a considerable amount.
“They should have waited for the Loterya ng Bayan being readied by the national government to replace jueteng soon where the government and the people would benefit through the sharing scheme to be adopted,” he said.
He said it is illegal for Meridien to operate outside CEZA, based on reports he has gathered.