MANILA, Philippines — Is playing bingo a crime?
Even the spokesperson of the Philippine National Police (PNP) admitted that the law prohibiting illegal gambling did not specify if bingo and other similar games of chance might be considered unlawful.
In an interview over phone, Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. said on Sunday the PNP was still awaiting the report of the Manila Police District (MPD) regarding the circumstances of the arrest of Manila Vice Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso and five city councilors over the weekend.
Asked if playing bingo, a popular lottery game among Filipinos, was illegal, Cerbo said: “Let’s see. The law against illegal gambling did not identify or specify which games (are illegal).”
“We will check if based on the contemplation of the law, (bingo) is legal or illegal. We cannot say (if it’s illegal) at this point. But seemingly, it could be illegal because (Moreno and his supporters) have been charged,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer
The re-electionist vice mayor and his allies were arrested by MPD policemen for sponsoring a bingo game in the city last Saturday.
Moreno and his running mate, former President and now mayoral candidate Joseph Estrada, had claimed that the arrest was politically motivated.
Estrada, who was convicted by the Sandiganbayan for plunder, is contesting the seat of his and Moreno’s erstwhile political ally, incumbent Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.
Playing down insinuations that the police operation was tainted with politics, Cerbo defended the policemen who arrested Moreno and his group while they were in the middle of the bingo game they sponsored.
“I would say that what they (MPD personnel) did was related to their job,” the PNP spokesperson maintained.
“If (Moreno and his allies) were arrested and charged, we cannot say immediately that the arrest was political harassment. As policemen, we have a job and mandate that we have to fulfill,” he added.
He said the PNP would welcome any investigation to determine if the MPD policemen violated any law when they arrested Moreno and his group.