Some of the materials used in "jueteng" operations.
By MANLY M UGALDE
LEGAZPI CITY: Illegal numbers games including “jueteng” and “loteng” continue to surge in Bicol as the May election nears.
The local newly organized Pipol Against Graft and Corruption (PAGC) blame legalized lottery operations such as the small-town lottery and jai-alai which only serve as a front for the flourishing illegal numbers games.
A PAGC official said it had received reports that gambling lords are scrambling for control and shares to expand the operation of the illegal numbers games.
Newly designated Bicol police regional director Chief Supt Clarence Guinto has yet to issue a statement about the illegal numbers games and the much-vaunted but non-performing or inactive PNP one-strike-policy.
But Bicol Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Col Renato Bataller said the one-strike policy of the PNP is a national policy that should be implemented by every unit in the PNP.
He said in a text message that there is no illegal numbers game in Bicol saying what we have has the permit referring to jai-alai operation of the Meredien Virtual Gaming Corp.
In Catanduanes, jueteng has not existed but loteng operation was rampant that police and local executives simply ignored operation. It was once reported as a P300- million industry.
PAGC president former mayor Jose Arcangel Jr. said he would coordinate with retired Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz, to join his efforts in rejecting the illegal numbers game.
Cruz is the founder of the Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng (KBLJ).
According to Arcangel, Albay, Cam Sur, CamNorte and Sorsogon have the strongest illegal numbers game operations in the region’s six provinces.
A CamSur police provincial director was relieved for simply sitting on the rampant jueteng operation for ignoring the existing directive of then Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo.
A former mayor of Jovellar town in Albay for 24 years, Arcangel said during his stint as mayor, jueteng would not thrive in his town because he simply rejects it.
He also recalls the stint of then Albay police provincial commander Col Ferdinand Lagman several years ago when the once well-entrenched jueteng operations in the province failed to survive during his three-year stint that even a guerilla-try operation also failed.
“When can we find another Colonel Lagman, who also paralyzed feared criminals involved in robbery and holdup in Albay during his term?” the former mayor asked.
Arcangel said the cities of Legazpi, Tabaco, and Ligao are the center of operations of the illegal numbers game in the province wondering why the much vaunted one strike policy of the PNP seems not to work in Albay and neighboring provinces over the illegal numbers game operation.
Former mayor and now city administrator Noel Rosal whose wife is the incumbent mayor said all he knew was that jai-alai that is operating in Legazpi City.
He said jai-alai has a permit to operate issued by the provincial board.
Anti-gambling advocates said they are tired hearing police and local government executives trumpeting that what is allegedly operating is jai-alai with the permit and denying the existence of jueteng.
They said that if it is jai-alai operating, how come only a small remittance was being received by the provincial municipal and city treasurers with the magnitude of the numbers game operation?
They said a bet collector would simply ask a bettor if your numbers is for jai-alai or STL which is jueteng.
Arcangel said in Tabaco City, a police chief who was barely one month in office was suddenly relieved after his successful operation against jueteng and drugs last year.
Anti-gambling advocates said that when there were no STL and jai-alai operations in Bicol, only jueteng operates with numerous bookies. With the legalization of STL and the entry of jai-alai through an LGU permit, police and LGUs had found a defense or cover-up that what they have is jai-alai with the permit.
Arcangel said there is no STL franchise in Albay for more than four years now, however, bet collectors for jai-alai are same collectors for jueteng being disguised as jai-alai if not STL.
Arcangel said rivalry in illegal numbers game continues for a wider control of the illegal operation, saying the situation that took place in Atimonan, Quezon could also possibly occur in Albay and any province.
Arcangel was referring to the alleged rubout incidence that killed 13 people in a checkpoint last Sunday afternoon between government troops and an alleged criminal group involved in robbery, gun for hire, and jueteng operations in Bicol and Laguna.
No casualty was reported from the government side while six policemen and soldiers were victims of the alleged rubout. – Bicol Mail