MANILA, Philippines — Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada declared on Monday an all-out war against all forms of illegal gambling—excluding “jueteng”—as he warned police officials that he would strictly impose a one-strike policy.
“We will immediately relieve those officers who are not able to stop illegal gambling in their respective jurisdictions,” Estrada said during a command conference at the Manila Police District (MPD) headquarters.
The former president referred to video karera, fruit games and basketball ending as among the illegal forms of gambling he wanted outlawed although he did not mention the illegal numbers game.
Estrada later explained to reporters that in 2009, he called for the legalization of jueteng because a study conducted by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. showed that 163,000 people made their living from the illegal numbers game.
“What’s the alternative? What will people live on if you stop it?” he said.
Estrada was convicted of plunder in 2007 for accepting P545 million in jueteng kickbacks. He was later pardoned a month later by then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Senior Superintendent Gilbert Cruz, MPD chief of staff, said that illegal gambling raids would be conducted by the headquarters’ intelligence unit and other operating units. Should any form of illegal gambling be found in a certain area, the MPD director has been authorized by the mayor to immediately relieve the station commander.
At the same time, Estrada announced that he would restore the monthly allowance of policemen, eliciting loud applause from the audience.
Estrada said each law enforcer would receive P1,000 a month, which would be taken from his discretionary fund. After six months and should there be enough money, the amount would be raised to P2,500, he added.
Asked for comment, Chief Superintendent Isagani Genabe, the acting MPD director, said that members of the police force have already been receiving an allowance from the Philippine National Police but allowances from the city government would be added incentive to good performance.
“I think it’s an incentive for MPD personnel so they could serve properly.” he added.
Genabe said the MPD has been preparing to transfer to the National Capital Region Police Office around 400 policemen who did not attend the command conference.
Earlier, the police district said it would be cracking on “15-30” law enforcers or those who show up for work only during payday.
“For those who were absent this morning, it only means they no longer want to be assigned to the MPD. So we will be giving them availability of transfer to where they want to serve,” he said.
Estrada, meanwhile, reiterated that the peace and order situation in the city would be his priority in the first 100 days of his term.
“I challenge you, especially the station commanders, to start cleaning up your ranks. If you cannot do this, you might as well resign because I will personally go after you,” he said.
He ordered the police officers to quit their involvement in criminal syndicates, turn down bribes offered by people behind illegal activities and restore people’s confidence in the police force.
“I am the mayor, henceforth, I will consistently lead by example. I will not ask you to do something, which I am not prepared to do myself,” Estrada said. “No amount of lip service can hide hypocrisy for a long time.”