STL-Iloilo operator claims ‘cops’ freed bookies collector

An employee (standing) of 7 Aces Games and Amusement Corp., the authorized STL agent corporation in Iloilo province, talks to a suspected “bookies” bet collector who was arrested in Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo on Feb 22, 2023.

By Jennifer P. Rendon

It might as well be dubbed as the tale of a “missing” bookies collector.

At around 10 a.m. on Feb 22, 2023, operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) conducted an anti-illegal gambling operation near the public market of Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo.

Two employees of the 7 Aces Games and Amusement Corp., the sole Authorized Agent Corporation (AAC) operating in Iloilo province, accompanied the CIDG personnel.

Ronnie Mallari, 7 Aces’ overall table manager for ground operations, said he was with their operations manager, a certain April Maduramente, during the operation.

Mallari explained that they filed a complaint after receiving reports of bookies or illegal gambling operations in Barotac Nuevo.

The night before the operation, he was informed about the activity that would be carried out by the CIDG.

Mallari said he had no idea that the CIDG field unit was behind the operation.

When asked how sure he was that the operatives were from CIDG, Mallari said Maduramente was the one who knew about the matter.

True enough, the CIDG operatives, whom he claimed he could not identify, caught a male person in the act of collecting bets.

During the short interrogation, the man squealed that their remittance center-cum-safe house is in Dumangas town.

“Willing naman siyang sumama sa amon. Pumunta kami sa Jardin Street, nandoon nga ang kanilang remittance center. May naabutan kaming tatlong tao doon pero ‘yung isa nakatakas,” Mallari said.

He narrated that one of the two Tagalog-speaking persons then called up someone, presumably their “boss,” about the presence of the CIDG.

Mallari said he did not fully comprehend the conversation after that since he was several meters from that person.

Instead, he asked the bet collector and other employees about their handler whom they identified as alias Bunso from Lucena City. They also named their financier as a certain Pablo from Metro Manila.

Mallari said the two also revealed that they have been operating for five days only, which was confirmed by evidence recovered from the safe house.

“Naka-lista kasi doon sa parang libro nila kung magkano ang pumapasok every day, magkano ang panalo, sino ang binabayaran. So, parang five days pa nga lang sila,” he said.

After 15 to 20 minutes, Mallari said they left the area.

The CIDG operatives and the bet collector boarded a black SUV while Mallari drove a different vehicle.

“Pero iniwan doon sa bahay ‘yung dalawang tao. Tapos binaba doon din sa bayan mismo ‘yung bet collector,” Mallari said.

He then asked Maduramente what happened, but the latter only claimed that “may tumawag na opisyal.”

He presumed that it was a police official but when asked who it could be, “hindi ko po alam. Alam ko po na ‘pag ganon, inarbor.”

Meanwhile, a check with the Barotac Nuevo Municipal Police Station revealed that they have not booked any arrests for illegal gambling on Wednesday.

As this developed, the management of 7 Aces would be asking for clarification over what happened.