Albay gov faces graft raps over ‘jueteng’ payola | Inquirer News

Albay governor faces graft raps over ‘jueteng’ payola

Complaint lodged before the Office of the Ombudsman claims Grex Lagman received P8M in payoffs, an allegation strongly belied by the governor

Edcel Greco “Grex” Lagman

Albay Gov. Edcel Greco “Grex” Lagman (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

A former village official in Daraga town of Albay on Tuesday filed administrative and criminal charges before the Office of the Ombudsman against Gov. Edcel Greco “Grex” Lagman for allegedly receiving around P8.16 million as payola (payoff) from the operation of “jueteng,” an illegal numbers game, during his time as vice governor of the province.

Saying he was finally blowing the whistle for fear of his life, Alwin Nimo, a former village and Sangguniang Kabataan chair of Barangay Anislag, accused Lagman of graft, bribery and violations of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees and Republic Act No. 9287 (an Act Increasing the Penalties for Illegal Numbers Game).


In the 35-page complaint, Nimo claimed he served as “bagman” for jueteng operators delivering P60,000 per week to Lagman from August 2019 to June 2022.


Lagman allegedly demanded the “protection money” from jueteng operators when the illegal numbers game proliferated after the small town lottery (STL) was ordered halted in Albay in 2017, Nimo claimed.

All lies

Reached for comment, Lagman on Tuesday strongly denied receiving any money from jueteng operators, particularly from Nimo.

Lagman said he never demanded a single centavo from illegal numbers game operators.

“When I assumed the vice governorship, I don’t know of any person connected with illegal numbers game. There is, therefore, absolutely no factual basis for me to have allegedly demanded jueteng money from anyone. Those persons involved don’t even know me,” he said in a phone interview.

Lagman said Nimo was introduced to him by former Albay governor Al Francis Bichara. Nimo was described as the former governor’s main political lieutenant, said Lagman.

“I don’t know who Mr. Nimo was except in this capacity as stated by the former governor. It is only now that I have known him to be a jueteng operator and/or bagman,” he said.


He also said that when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in 2020, his bank account number had “become known to prospective donors because I have written letters to them to support my pandemic effort of buying generator sets, hundreds of sacks of rice and other allied help.”

“All my letters stated my account number should they decide to donate in cash although many of them also donated in kind. I don’t know all the various deposits that were actually deposited to my account because many individuals, foundations and corporations helped in the pandemic effort,” he explained.

He also suspected that he was just being used in a money-laundering scheme: “Maybe this illegal numbers operator tried to launder his money by depositing it to a legitimate [bank] account.”


Regarding the direct bribery complaint lodged against him, he said that under the law, there should be evidence of him protecting his accuser in exchange for the bribe.

“And what concrete act that’s categorical, tangible to protect the illegal numbers game? I don’t even know who needs to be protected there. So how could he actually accuse me of direct bribery?” he said.

He said the filing of cases against him is purely politically-motivated, adding it was a “badly scripted act to divert the heat from certain big politicians serving in Congress who are under investigation from the Senate for the misuse of billions (of pesos) of public funds.”

Deep connection

Nimo, who claimed he had deep connections with jueteng and STL operators in Albay, has alleged that Lagman “directed (him) to be his conduit … asked (him) to intervene for him and get in touch with the financier of jueteng” in Albay after being elected vice governor in 2019.

The payola was “in exchange for him as vice governor and presiding officer of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan … to look the other way and refrain from using their investigative powers to inquire into the proliferation of jueteng in Albay,” Nimo said.

Among the jueteng financiers, locally known as “bangkero,” identified by Nimo in his affidavit were a late former vice mayor of a Batangas town and another person from Bulacan who had also died.

The payoffs were personally handed to Lagman or his driver at a gas station in Legazpi City until sometime in November 2020, when the then vice governor asked for the money to be deposited into a bank account “to avoid the possibility of being seen receiving bundles of money in public places,” Nimo claimed.

READ: Albayalde warns of ‘jueteng’ resurgence as STL operates again

Nimo said his cousin, Dexter Maceda, deposited the weekly payola to Lagman’s bank account.

However, jueteng operations in Albay ceased when Noel Rosal took over as governor in 2022, Nimo pointed out. At the time, Lagman also won in the polls as vice governor.

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Rosal was unseated after the Commission on Elections disqualified him for handing out cash aid to tricycle drivers and senior citizens in his capacity as Legazpi City mayor during the election period in 2022, a supposed violation of the Omnibus Election Code, paving the way for Lagman’s assumption as governor.

TAGS: Edcel Greco Lagman, graft case, Jueteng, Office of the Ombudsman

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