Verzosa, local officials deny jueteng links

Posted at 10/06/10 2:14 PM

Says illegal numbers game a multi-dimensional problem

MANILA, Philippines - Appearing in public for the first time since he was tagged in the jueteng controversy, retired Philippine National Police chief (PNP) Jesus Verzosa reiterated he is not involved in the illegal numbers game.

Verzosa said he categorically denies his involvement in jueteng, but readily admits knowing 2 of the others tagged in the controversy: alleged “collector on the ground” Eddie Fontanilla and alleged “intermediate recipient” retired general Reynaldo Cachuela.

Fontanilla is supposedly a friend of a friend while Cachuela was a former officemate in a PNP unit.

Verzosa claimed he did not know of the “resurgence” of the problem until he was notified by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Immediately, he claimed he ordered his men on the ground to monitor and arrest those who were involved.

“When we were notified, we also recommended processes to undertake the jueteng problem. We had 2 recommendations, the holding of a national summit that shall be participated in by all [stakeholders], and the creation of a national gaming commission that will be sole regulator of all numbers game,” he said.

There is a “necessity of bringing in all stakeholders” if the government intends on going into an all-out war against jueteng, he said.

Police toothless?

Not even the implementation of the small-town lottery (STL) had resolved the problem, Verzosa added. STL merely camouflaged the illegal jueteng, he added.

“While there’s a legal STL, there’s an illegal jueteng…which goes hand in hand,” he said.

He admitted there was a previous directive from former Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno that police should refrain from arresting small town operators.

This led Senator Juan Ponce Enrile to insist that the police had become toothless in resolving the problem given the many layers of bureaucracy.

The police are not tied to following the order, he added.

He noted the National Police Commission (Napolcom) has been quiet since the controversy erupted, even if it had the powers of handling the police.

“Napolcom is the 1 who has supervision, not DILG…Napolcom is the [Civil Service Commission] of the police,” he added.

At the height of the hostage crisis, Enrile said “they berated the wrong people, they did not question why Napolcom did not act.”

Espino, Domogan also deny links

Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino and Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan also put into record their denial of any links to the illegal numbers game.

They said jueteng has not and will not flourish during their administrations.

Espino said the allegations have already affected his family, including his ailing mother.

For his part, Domogan said “we can stop it if we have the collective effort. But it’s easier said than done.”

Both noted that without any concerted effort, the controversy will just keep on popping its ugly head year after year.

Panlilio, Morato: STL is not the answer

The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) is now in the process of coming up with a system by which to strengthen the STL.

It said the plans will be disclosed by the end of the week.

STL is seen as a necessary alternative to stamp out jueteng.

Former Pampanga Governor Eduardo Panlilio admits he had a hard time controlling the problem during his term, even if stakeholders were one with him.

He showed the Blue Ribbon Committee the “papeletas” of STL, which could easily be tampered by jueteng operators.

He said the local government does not even have control over the police, a necessary unit in their fight against jueteng.

During his term, there were only temporary police chiefs stationed in Pampanga.

His request for an anti-jueteng chief of police, including Cesar Binag, went unheeded, he said.

Even former PCSO chairman Manuel “Manoling” Morato is not too inclined to promoting STL.

During his term, he never initiated talks for the implementation of STL. Out of a promise to President Fidel Ramos, he also did not sign any franchises for the STL.

“Running after operators of jueteng is an endless cat and mouse game…Legalizing jueteng is also not the solution, another illegal numbers game will only emerge,” he said.