29 arrested at illegal poker tournament in Iloilo City

By Jennifer P. Rendon

A policeman, a fireman, and a foreigner were among the 29 individuals who were arrested in an afternoon raid on a poker party last April 20 in City Proper, Iloilo City.

Staff Sergeant Wilmar Sumpio of Maasin Municipal Police Station, Fire Officer 1 Jun Rey dela Peña, and Korean national Ryu Suk Shin, along with 26 others, were apprehended while participating in a poker tournament in Aurora Subdivision, Barangay Villa Anita.

The event’s promoter, Rey Anthony Bayag, 41, from Bankers Village, Barangay Tabuc Suba, Jaro, was identified and arrested with four of his staff.

Among those detained were 18 businessmen and a former barangay kagawad.

The Iloilo City Police Office – City Intelligence Unit (ICPO-CIU), along with units from the ICPO City Drug Enforcement, Police Station 1, City Mobile Force Company, and the SWAT team, executed the raid on the venue hosting the game.

Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Benitez, Jr., CIU chief, reported the confiscation of P103,000 in cash used for betting and various gambling items.

The action followed a tip-off from a relative of one of the poker players, who complained that gambling addiction was causing familial discord.

According to Benitez, the group had been under surveillance for organizing poker games in the La Paz and Mandurriao districts.

Bayag, the game’s organizer, claimed they were hosting a tournament, not engaging in illegal gambling, and hence did not secure a permit.

However, Benitez dismissed this defense, pointing to the bet money as evidence of unlawful activity.

The arrested individuals are now detained and will face charges under Presidential Decree 1602, which imposes stricter penalties for illegal gambling.