By: Jennifer P. Rendon
GAMBLING knows no economic status or location. From the affluent areas to far-flung barrios, gambling – be it legal or illegal – is always present.
But with the closure of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO)-sanctioned games, will the illegal ones thrive?
And it’s a possibility the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) is already preparing for.
Police Brigadier General Rene Pamuspusan, Western Visayas police chief, said he already instructed provincial and city police offices in the region to go after the bookies and operators who will take advantage of the closure and establish their operations.
When asked what is to be expected of the government’s campaign against illegal gambling, Pamuspusan said the instruction of President Rodrigo Duterte to close all PCSO-sanctioned games only “shows that he is really bent on stopping corruption in the government in any forms.
“PRO-6 will always be behind and supportive of this fight against corruption. We are determined to maintain our vigilance against all forms of illegal gambling. We expect that this is a big step towards putting a stop to corruption in PCSO and putting a stop to other illegal gambling such as bookies,” he said.
Citing insatiable and massive corruption in PCSO, President Duterte on Friday night ordered the revocation of all PCSO-gaming franchises, including lotto.
On Saturday morning, police all over the country were mobilized to ensure that all PCSO games cease operations.
In Iloilo City, different police units implemented the closure of 75 Small Town Lottery (STL), lotto, and Keno outlets.
On the other hand, the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO) has closed down 155 PCSO-sanctioned gambling operations – 93 STL outlets and its main station, 53 lotto outlets, and 8 Keno outlets.
Police Colonel Martin Defensor Jr., Iloilo City police director, said the number doesn’t include small tables of STL, which was also stopped.
But Defensor said he does not think that illegal gambling like STL bookies will proliferate in his area.
“Even before, we don’t monitor bookies operation,” he said.
Defensor named a slain drug personality, who allegedly operated bookies operation in the past, “but with his death, we haven’t monitored that there are rampant illegal gambling operations.”
On Saturday, Pamuspusan immediately ordered all provincial and city directors to stop all gambling/gaming operations of PCSO effective immediately.
Subordinate commanders were told submit a compliance report not later than 12 p.m. of the same day.
As gambling/gaming schemes licensed under the PCSO such as Lotto, STL, Peryahan ng Bayan, Keno and others are considered illegal, “any person who will be caught engaging in any gambling scheme will be arrested and charged for violation of PD 1602 as amended by RA 9287 covering Illegal Number Games and other related laws,” he said.
Pamuspusan also enjoined the public to cooperate and help in the dissemination of the President’s order to avoid problems in its full implementation.
BET COLLECTOR NABBED
Despite the highly-publicized closure, a woman in Guimaras province was arrested for soliciting STL bets.
Diane Marie Cuarte was caught at around 11:40 a.m. Saturday in Barangay Ravina, Sibunag town.
Recovered from her were STL tally sheets and P170 bet money.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Joem Malong, Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) spokesperson, said different police units in the region conducted 11 anti-gambling operations, however, only one was arrested.
There were five operations against tong-its, three against cara y cruz, and one each against cockfighting and spider fighting.
51 persons arrested while P2,661 in bet money were recovered.