MANILA, Philippines—“The law applies to all, otherwise none at all.”
Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim’s motto had some violators on Saturday and they’re no other than his Vice Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno and five councillors.
Moreno was arrested and detained on Saturday afternoon for allegedly engaging in illegal gambling. Also arrested and detained were Councilors Jong Isip, Joel Chua, Benny Ang, Yul Servo and Maria Asuncion Fuguso.
Servo, like Moreno, is a former actor.
Lim, who is also called “Dirty Harry of Manila” because of his strict no-nonsense adherence to the law, said he learned about the arrest of Moreno and the five councilors on Saturday night when they were in detention already, radio reports said early Sunday.
“Tapos na nung nalaman ko. I learned about his (Moreno’s) arrest when he was in jail already. I talked with General Gutierrez and he told me about the illegal gambling case that the Vice Mayor was involved with,” Lim said in Filipino.
Lim was referring to Manila Police District director Chief Superintendent Alejandro Gutierrez who gave the go-signal to arrest and detain Moreno.
In earlier reports on Saturday, Moreno was quoted as saying it was all because of politics. Moreno is running for reelection with former President Joseph Estrada under the United Nationalist Alliance. They are running against the re-electionist Lim and councilor Lou Veloso, who is running for vice mayor, under the Liberal Party.
Lim said it’s not true that the arrest has something to do with politics and the coming elections. “Hindi porke nahalal ka, opisyal ka ng gobyerno, (It’s not because you’re an elected official), you’re above the law. Walang kinalaman ang pulitika dito,” Lim said.
Vice President Jejomar Binay and Estrada visited Moreno close to Saturday midnight to help in his immediate release.
Moreno and the other councillors were discharged past midnight for lack of evidence.
Moreno and the councillors allegedly sponsored a bingo game that reportedly attracted some 500 people in Manila’s Blumentritt area.
A team from MPD’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit arrested Moreno and other officials. They were detained in MPD’s Quiapo station.
Lim said Moreno admitted sponsoring Bingo games for the last five years. Moreno was quoted as saying that it’s only now such arrest happened when he and Lim are with opposing political parties.
“Idadawit pa nya ako na kasama nya akong nag-sponsor ng bingo nung tandem pa kami ng mga nakaraang taon. Kasinungalingan. Unang-una hindi ako mahilig magsugal. Ang alam ko lang tumaya sa lotto,” Lim said.
Lim said Moreno and his political allies can’t gather people to hear them in their campaign sorties so they resort to sponsoring Bingo games and give prizes.
Supt. Ricardo Layug, commander of the MPD’s Quiapo station, told in radio interviews that the case against Moreno and the councillors are still up for further investigation.