Gambling gang trying to set foot again in Quezon towns
LUCENA CITY—An illegal gambling syndicate has been luring reelectionist local officials with campaign funds in next year’s elections in exchange for allowing the operation of unauthorized lottery bookies.
“Representatives of a big-time gambling operator have been approaching incumbent mayors seeking permission to operate bookies in exchange for huge campaign funds,” a town mayor in the Lamon Bay area told Inquirer in a phone interview Wednesday.
The local chief executive, who requested anonymity because of threats to his life from gambling syndicates, said he rejected the offer.
He said the gambling agents have been dropping the name of a big-time gambling operator as the one behind the attempt to operate a province-wide bookies operation.
“From what I learned from my other fellow mayors, they also rejected the overture because it was illegal. Besides, the operation of legal Small Town Lottery (STL) is already OK with us,” the mayor said.
The mayor asked Pirouette Corporation, operator of the state-sanctioned lottery in Quezon province, to order their bet collectors to regularly wear ID cards to distinguish them from illegal collectors.
Sources from the police and military based in Camp Nakar here said several illegal STL operators have already been conducting clandestine test draws in different areas since January.
The informants said in some towns, the local officials themselves or their close relatives operate the illegal STL bookies with the connivance of unscrupulous policemen.
Senior Superintendent Valeriano de Leon, Quezon police chief, admitted that there has been a resurgence of illegal bookies in some parts of the province.
“Our main focus now is to stop the resurgence of illegal gambling in Quezon, particularly unauthorized STL bookies,” De Leon said.
On Monday, operatives from the Quezon police intelligence unit raided a suspected STL bookie gambling den in nearby Sariaya town near the municipal police station.
The raiders arrested five suspects while in the act of counting bets and recovered cash and gambling paraphernalia.
De Leon said he ordered an investigation to determine if the chief of police, Supt. Vilmor Manzano, was tolerating the illegal bookies.
Manzano denied this.