The Aquino administration should not limit the crackdown on jueteng to Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino to dispel perceptions that it is clamping down on its political enemies.
According to Sen. Panfilo Lacson, there are other governors who are known to be involved in jueteng.
And there are instances where a provincial governor’s involvement goes beyond protecting operators of the numbers racket, Lacson said.
“It happens that it is the governor himself who is the operator. And this is happening in many provinces,” Lacson said in an interview on dzBB radio Sunday.
Lacson was responding to a question by program host Nimfa Ravelo whether he agreed with the administration’s bringing plunder charges against Espino for allegedly pocketing millions of pesos in payoffs from jueteng operators.
“We all know that it is not only General Espino who is involved in jueteng,” Lacson replied.
Espino, a new member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, was chief superintendent in the Philippine National Police when he retired.
He served as police director for the Ilocos Region and as police provincial director for Pangasinan.
“Just so the administration would not be accused of playing politics, the move to charge local officials in connection with jueteng activities should be indiscriminate. Those governors in the provinces where jueteng is rampant and where the governor himself is the operator should all be charged,” Lacson said.
Shortly after filing charges against Espino, the Department of the Interior and Local Government ordered the suspension of Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia of the United Nationalist Alliance for six months for grave abuse of authority in connection with a case filed in 2010 by the late Vice Gov. Greg Sanchez. The case has no connection to jueteng.
Lacson said many of the governors in provinces where jueteng is entrenched have wisened up after their exposure to the racket.
“Some of the governors would think, ‘Why should I wait for my take in jueteng when I can look for someone who can conduct the game for me? I can be the operator and financier and earn more,’” he said.
In a previous interview, Lacson said the daily gross collection of all jueteng operators nationwide could add up to P50 million.
He reiterated previous observations that the government-endorsed small-town lottery (STL) is used as a front for jueteng in many provinces.
“The franchise for [STL] is being abused because the jueteng collector brandishes his lotto ID whenever he is arrested for working for a jueteng operator,” Lacson said.
He added that since STL is only a front, jueteng operators remit only 20 percent of their collections to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and pocket the rest.
Lacson said it was about time the PCSO reconsidered its rules and regulations to deal with this situation.