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SENATOR SANTIAGO SAYS:
Atong Ang No. 1 gambling lord

She also slams DILG-PNP control of jueteng

By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:14:00 09/23/2010

Filed Under: Politics, Police, Government, Graft & Corruption, Gaming & Lotteries, Casinos & Gambling

MANILA, Philippines? Charlie ?Atong? Ang, a former gambling buddy of deposed President Joseph Estrada, was not on the list of ?jueteng? operators submitted by retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz to the Senate on Tuesday.

But it is a curiosity that Ang topped the list of operators of illegal gambling revealed Wednesday by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

In a privilege speech, Santiago identified Ang as No. 1 in four out of five regions.

The others are Danny Soriano, Bong Pineda, Aging Lisan and Tony Santos. (See list of gambling operators)

Reacting to Santiago?s accusation, Ang said he was not involved in jueteng operations.

Santiago delivered her privilege speech a day after Cruz, head of the People?s Crusade Against Jueteng, released a list of jueteng operators and beneficiaries showing that Interior Undersecretary Rico E. Puno and former Philippine National Police Chief Jesus Verzosa were receiving up to P8 million a month in jueteng payoffs.

Santiago placed the annual jueteng receipts at P30 billion.

Jueteng has thrived in the Philippines because gambling lords have found the winning combination in a tolerant and corrupt Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), the senator said.

?The equation DILG + PNP = Jueteng? means that illegal jueteng consists of a conspiracy between the interior secretary and the police chief. They are the prime beneficiaries and ultimate protectors of jueteng,? she said.

?If we as a people do not rouse ourselves from our stupor, someday the Philippine president will be elected on the basis of who gets the biggest jueteng contribution,? said Santiago, who took a break from her indefinite leave. She is suffering from hyperthyroidism.

P150 million each

Santiago claimed that the interior secretary and the PNP chief get to divide P300 million (1 percent of the yearly jueteng receipts) every year without the participation of the President.

?In a corrupt situation, all that is necessary is for the interior secretary and the PNP chief to gaze into each other?s eyes, and they fall in love instantly. If you look more closely, you will see that there are peso signs in their eyes, as they gaze lovingly at each other in an orgy of mutual admiration and mutual corruption,? Santiago said.

?Why become senators when we can share from the P150 million that they (PNP and DILG chiefs) get every year? The youth in our schools must be wrong, because they should aspire to be the PNP chief or DILG chief who don?t have to do anything and they can even do blunders but still get P150 million a year,? she said.

Campaign contributions

Under the racketeers? ?political playbook,? they follow closely the most likely winner in the election before committing their resources to secure the odds-on favorite candidate?s loyalty, according to the senator.

?The jueteng lords then move to place their blushing man as DILG head who immediately gets his or her PNP chief to form the perfect formula for jueteng to flourish,? she added.

?This is managed corruption. And these two merchants of poverty operate with impunity until the next administration.?

Santiago said that the ?lord of the jueteng lords? could make the President look the other way by making him or her dependent on their support like when the Chief Executive was under threat of a coup d?etat or impeachment in Congress.

Santiago used the photos of Verzosa, former Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno and Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno in her PowerPoint presentation.

?The DILG and PNP chief not only make the President ?hostage to jueteng money,? they also buy the loyalty of police rank and file by augmenting their income with jueteng money,? Santiago said.

Legalization

Santiago said the government had two choices in resolving jueteng?either enforce the law such as imposing harsher penalties and going after the jueteng lords and protectors rather than the gamblers; or make it legal by amending the Penal Code to control cheating in jueteng and the dishonesty of its promoters, and get tax revenues from jueteng promoters and players.

Santiago likened the government?s fight against jueteng to the US situation during the Prohibition era when liquor flourished even as the authorities imposed a ban on the manufacture, sale or transportation of alcoholic beverages, with bootleggers like Al Capone rising to power.

Santiago noted that just like the Prohibition, the government?s anti-jueteng stance had led to the perennial criminal conspiracy between the interior secretary and the PNP chief and allowed jueteng operators to determine winners in local elections with their illicit, untaxed wealth.

Champion vanquished

The government stance is breeding corruption that vanquishes any champion of law enforcement, Santiago said.

With the government failing to curb jueteng since the Spanish times, she said it would be better for the government to regulate rather than abolish jueteng on paper. ?Our mandate on jueteng is clear: enforce the law, or legalize jueteng,? the senator said.

?If all else fails, then as lawmakers we have to consider the proposal to legalize jueteng and declare an amnesty period for jueteng operators to legalize themselves by paying a legalization fee to the government, and by paying subsequent taxes that shall be treated as analogues of internal revenue allotments,? she said.

Why STL fails

Santiago said the government?s attempt to provide an alternative, the Small Town Lottery, had failed because only 10 to 15 percent of its earnings were declared with the rest siphoned off to jueteng.

In her speech, Santiago further bared juicy details about the multibillion jueteng racket.

Santiago said jueteng operators were spending 34 percent of the P30 billion in annual revenues for operating expenses?2 percent for the cabo; 10 percent for the cobrador; and 22 percent for management.

Protection money

Based on her source who was not identified for security reasons, Santiago said the ?protection money? was distributed as follows:

? One percent goes to the DILG-PNP syndicate composed of the secretary, undersecretary, the police chief, and head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

? Two percent goes to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office syndicate composed of its chair, general manager, board directors, legal department, Romualdo Quiones of PCSO and a ?Sabella? plus taxes (including the papeletos).

? One percent to the syndicate of the Games and Amusement Board, the intelligence officer and media.

? Three percent to the provincial government syndicate of the governor, vice governor and provincial board members.

? One percent to the PNP provincial director.

? A fifth of one percent (0.2) to the provincial director of the National Bureau of Investigation.

? One percent to the syndicate of the PNP regional director and Regional Mobile Group.

? Five percent to the municipal syndicate made up of the mayor, vice mayor and city council members;

? Two percent to the congressman; and

? One percent to the local chief of police.

Santiago said she was collecting more data from her informants and hinted that she might come up with a second part in her expos.



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