Interior Secretary Jesse M. Robredo on Wednesday ordered the relief of the chiefs of police of three towns in his home province of Camarines Sur for their reported failure to stop the proliferation of the illegal numbers game “jueteng” in their areas.
Sacked were Chief Inspector Benjamin Espana, chief of the Calabanga town police; Chief Inspector Ely Compuesto Jr., chief of Pili town police; and Senior Inspector Victor E. Azuela, acting chief of police of Bato town.
“We have a standing ‘One Strike Policy’ against Chiefs of Police who are remiss in their duty to curb illegal gambling activities in their areas of responsibility,” Robredo said in a statement Wednesday.
“The policy is that any successful anti-illegal gambling operation in a town or city shall result in the relief of the chief of police or the precinct commander,” he added.
The three police chiefs were relieved after operatives of the Office of Internal Security (OIS) of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) launched simultaneous raids in their towns on March 23 and arrested 51 persons employed by the Evenchance Gaming Corp.
The DILG cited reports that Evenchance was owned by alleged gambling lord Rodolfo “Bong” Pineda of Pampanga and that it had a franchise from Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office to operate STL in Camarines Sur and Sorsogon.
“I have directed [Director General Nicanor Bartolome] to issue the marching orders for the relieved officers and to process the papers of their replacement,” Robredo said.
“I have standing orders for the officers of the DILG OIS to conduct raids in all parts of the country where illegal gambling, particularly jueteng, is prevalent,” he said.
In his report to Robredo, Senior Superintendent Frank Penaflor, senior police assistant to the DILG chief, said 21 police personnel, five of them officers, formed three teams and raided the towns of Calabanga, Pili and Bato.
Fifteen persons, including the “kabo” and “kubrador” (bet collectors) were arrested in the Pili operation that yielded P16,760 in cash bets, and assorted jueteng paraphernalia; 24 were arrested in Calabanga yielding 7,121.50 in cash bets and assorted paraphernalia; and 12 persons were arrested in the town of Bato for operating jueteng.
“These jueteng personnel are all employed by the Evenchance Gaming Corp. which has a franchise from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to operate a Small Town Lottery (STL) in Camarines Sur. Those arrested carry STL IDs as cover (for) their jueteng operations,” Robredo said.