PNP chief orders probe of jai alai in Bicol | Inquirer News

PNP chief orders probe of jai alai in Bicol

By: - Correspondent / @msarguellesINQ
/ 11:34 PM January 22, 2012

LEGAZPI CITY—The head of the Philippine National Police said he would investigate reports of widespread illegal gambling disguised as online lottery in several Bicol provinces amid complaints from residents.

Director General Nicanor Bartolome, PNP chief, said he received reports of illegal gambling using the Internet in the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon and the two Camarines provinces.

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Bartolome made the statement amid complaints against the firm Meridien Vista Gaming Corp., which had been accused of illegally operating jai alai betting stations in the region and purportedly claiming to have been allowed to do so by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

The PCSO, however, has declared that Meridien was not authorized to operate gaming outlets in Bicol, saying the company was registered at the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority and authorized to operate there only.

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Bartolome said he would instruct the new regional chief of the Bicol PNP, Chief Superintendent Jose Arne de los Santos, to investigate the illegal gambling operations and use his power to put an end to the racket.

Bartolome also ordered De los Santos to put a policeman in every village of the region shortly after De los Santos took over the helm of the regional police force recently.

Bartolome gave the order to De los Santos during ceremonies in Camp General Simeon Ola marking the turnover of command from Chief Supt. Cecilio Calleja, who has retired.

De los Santos, a Bicolano, is a native of Daraga town in Albay and a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Batch 1979. He headed the Southern Police District in Quezon City before his assignment here.

Bartolome said he expected De los Santos to carry out by this year his order for a policeman to be assigned to every village in the region to increase police visibility, especially in remote villages.

Bicol has 3,471 villages in 107 towns and seven cities in the provinces of Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Norte and the island provinces of Masbate and Catanduanes.

For security reasons, the PNP is keeping a tight lip on the total number of policemen assigned to Bicol.

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Most policemen are on field duty but many others are on desk duty in the region’s police offices.

Bartolome said 23,000 villages nationwide had been covered by the Philippine National Police’s increased visibility program and that he expected this number to increase to 32,000 by the end of the year.

The complaints against illegal gambling in Bicol surfaced during Bartolome’s visit for the turnover rites.

Earlier, the Department of the Interior and Local Government has conducted raids on jai alai betting stations in Rizal and other places following an opinion by the Department of Justice that the operations of these outlets were illegal.

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TAGS: Bicol, illegal gambling, Jai-alai, Police
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