Gambling omerta

>> Thursday, June 22, 2017

Alfred P. Dizon

BAGUIO CITY – Name it, you have it. This tourism resort hosts all kinds of gambling – legal or illegal like jueteng. The religious sector had been condemning all forms of gambling here but lately, it is silent on the matter.
Illegal gambling joints are raking it in, it is no wonder why these are not being raided. Folks know where these are like the ones along Legarda, Palma and Magsaysay roads which are very, very near police stations.
When a concerned citizen reports such activities to the police, they do “raid” these areas, but nobody is caught as nobody is playing. Credit it to the wonder of texting.  
Players squander their money playing pusoy, tong-its, lucky 8 and black jack others as if going to the Thunderbird Casino at Poro Point in San Fernando, La Union is not enough  
Jueteng under the guise of STL is alive and kicking. No kubrador is being caught even if they are everywhere – in bus terminals, public markets, restaurants, business establishments, streets and yes, even city hall.
This while the arrest of an elderly group in their 60’s and above was widely touted as accomplishment.
If illegal gambling is flourishing, so are legal ones after the city council posed no objection to operation of several electronic and traditional bingo establishments in this city now being tagged ‘gambling capital of the north.”
Mayor Mauricio Domogan said allowing legal gambling is a strategy to curb illegal gambling. The local government will also receive its share from  operations of legitimate gambling which could be used to fund social welfare programs for local residents, he said.
“The action of the local legislative body in approving the operation of traditional and electronic bingo establishments in the city represents the official stand of the city on the matter. We hope unabated operation of illegal gambling activities will eventually stop with operation of legal gambling establishments regulated by concerned government agencies,” Domogan said.
Earlier, the city council approved two resolutions saying they posed no objection to operation of traditional and electronic bingo outlets in the city, particularly at Albergo Hotel, SM City Baguio and Baguio Center Mall.
With the city government’s stand on the matter clarified, Domogan said he was optimistic the Baguio City Police Office will pursue all-out campaign to curb unabated illegal gambling activities in the city.
He added this will also provide alternatives for gamblers to venture into legal gambling activities such as traditional and electronic bingo and controversial Small Town Lottery which is under jurisdiction of state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming corp. and  Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office respectively.
According to him, approval of electronic and traditional bingo outlets by the city council was in accordance to the prescribed rules and regulations by government regulating agencies.
Under PAGCOR guidelines for establishment of traditional and electronic bingo outlets, companies intending to operate such gaming and amusement establishments should first secure certification or resolution of no objection from local government concerned.
Based on approved resolutions of the city council, the local government will no longer entertain other applications for traditional and electronic bingo operations in the city apart from the electronic bingo games at the Baguio Center Mall, SM City Baguio, Albergo Hotel and the Maharlika Livelihood Center.
Domogan urged barangay officials to make sure no illegal gambling activities will exist in their areas and for them to immediately seek assistance of police to go after individuals making use of legal gambling operations to cover up illegal gambling activities.
As all kinds of gambling activities prosper in this “Character City,” so do the shadowy characters who are raking the money in. One need not wonder too if everything is silent on the media front as illegal gambling also goes on unabated even in nearby Benguet towns, Cordillera, Northern Luzon and yes, other parts of the country.
If government is silent on jueteng, you may ask your local officials.  
There is omerta among all stakeholders – from government officials, police and even the religious sector.
Yes, omerta is the term used by the mafia to mean code of silence.  
As our friendly neighborhood philosopher always says with wink – What gives?


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