Iloilo cops vs gambling lock, stock, and barrel

By Alex P. Vidal

“Good things happen when you get your priorities straight.”—Scott Caan

IT seems the Philippine National Police (PNP) was created only with a priority to eliminate illegal gambling, the prolonged campaign that, so far, has failed miserably.

Ever since the PNP was formed on January 29, 1991, when the Philippine Constabulary (PC) and the Integrated National Police (INP) were merged pursuant to Republic Act 6975 of 1990, all the previous chiefs, from the first director general, Cesar Nazareno, vowed to crush—first and foremost—illegal gambling.

Now under the command of Marcos Jr.-appointed General Benjamin Acorda Jr., the PNP’s battle cry remains the same after 33 years: crackdown against illegal gambling.

As if illegal gambling is the only cancer of society.

What happened to the other crimes or operations against illegal activities and armed groups that are more destructive and dangerous than illegal gambling like illegal drugs, illegal fishing, illegal logging, private army, armed robbery, cybercrimes, gun-for-hires and riding in tandem, illegal recruitment, carjacking, human trafficking, among others?

Why weren’t these crimes mentioned as “top priorities” as well?


Peace and order campaign in the country surely is not only limited in the war versus illegal gambling.

But the PNP chain of command under Acorda Jr. appeared to have tasked the country’s entire police force to prioritize illegal gambling, thus we can’t blame Brigadier General Jack Wanky, the newly assumed Police Regional Office 6 (PRO6) regional director, for ordering city and provincial police directors to intensify their respective drive against, what else, illegal gambling.

Wanky reportedly directed all city and provincial PNP directors in the region to form task force teams for a focused assignment against unauthorized games in his first media interview on Feb. 26, 2024.

The creation of task force teams, Wanky said, was one of Acorda Jr’s marching orders to him as the director general wanted Wanky and, perhaps all other regional chiefs in the country, to get rid of illegal gambling “to give way to the small-town lottery (STL).”

The PNP has to make a “bold stand” against unauthorized gambling operations, Wanky said, after STL operators had protested the continued proliferation of “bookies.”

“They will be expecting a lot of operations until such time that this menace will stop. We will not stop until they stop,” Wanky declared, quoted by the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

What is so special with STL over the interests of the public in general?


INDI dapat mag pangakig kag mag react negatively si Local Government secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. nga daw magua gid siya sa iya ugat sa mga criticism ni Davao City mayor Sebastian “Baste” Duterte sa palpak nga promisa ni President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. nga panuboon ang presyo sang bugas sa P20 per kilo.

Gin tawag ni Duterte, bata sang anay presidente nga si Rodrigo, nga “greatest scam” sa isa ka rally sa Cebu ang wala natabu nga pagnubo sang presyo sang bugas bisan pa nangin presidente na si Marcos Jr. kay amo gid ini ang iya gin promisa sadtong nagapadalagan sia presidente in 2022.

Pero si Abalos ya daw ma run amok gid. Opinyon lang ina ya ni Baste. Kon wala si Abalos naga pati nga “greatest scam” ang promisa sang iya boss, so be it. Indi niya dapat pag punggan si Baste ukon sin o man nga reklamador kon naga express man lang sang ila balatyagon kay sa matuod lang, wala gid man nag nubo ang bugas sa P20 per kilo. 

Kon nag nubo ang bugas kag nag warak-warak pa si Baste ti sin o ang mahuy an? Si Baste eh. Ti kay matuod gid man nga mahal gihapon ang bugas kundi insakto si Baste.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)