Sueno says he was offered bribe by gambling lords
Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno said on Tuesday that gambling lords had tried to offer him payola even before he officially assumed his Cabinet post last year.
Sueno said money from illegal gambling operations was allegedly given to benefactors in government through “three holes,” one of which was for the head of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
The three holes are a variation of the “Three Kings” during the Arroyo administration.
At a Senate hearing on the operations of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Sueno said that he declined all attempts to bribe him and that he did not know exactly who were behind the offers of payola.
He, however, admitted that someone was taking the amounts on his behalf without authority.
“When I sat down as secretary of the DILG, I heard that there were three holes, and that money was funneled through these holes,” Sueno told the Senate committee on games and amusement.
“I don’t know what amount, but one of the holes belongs to the secretary, to the SILG (interior secretary). But up to now I have not
received any centavo, although I was encouraged by several to accept,” he told the committee chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
Sueno also disclosed that someone was taking the money for him, and that he was now “trying to find out” who that person was.
“I have reports saying that I have been receiving [the money] because someone is collecting the money from the hole (meant for the interior secretary),” he said.
Metro Manila, Central Luzon
Asked later in an interview, Sueno said amounts involved ranged from P4 million monthly in Metro Manila to P13 million in Central
“I think these are bribes. I’m trying to find out who is getting it for me and I will also ask why [that person is] taking it when there was no order to do so,” he said.
Offer came from ‘operators’
Sueno said money sent to the holes came from illegal gambling, and were different from shares that local governments and the police regularly receive from legitimate earnings in state gaming operations.
“Even before I sat down as SILG, someone came to tell me … I do not know who they were … I was still in Mindanao, someone from Luzon came…,” he said.
All he knew, he said, was that the offer came from
“operators.” The offer, he
said, was to get a “monthly take” from illegal gambling operations.
“They did not say (how much), but they said I will get a big amount. I said I was afraid,” he said.
Saying he was still new in his post, Sueno said he would soon seek the public’s help to crack down on illegal gambling.
“You tell us. We will ask people what to do, because we do not know how to. If you ask me, I’m not involved in any gambling at all. I do not know how to gamble. So there, we will ask people how to detect, how to stop it,” he said.
Amend PCSO Charter
Lacson revived calls to amend the 1954 PCSO Charter to provide legal cover to policies, rules and guidelines that the state-run firm has been implementing, including the regular provision of shares to local governments, congressional districts and police offices out of gaming earnings.
“What the PCSO does right now has no basis in law. The charter is so old and it only talks of sweepstakes. Sweepstakes are not popular anymore … And now, we have STL (small town lottery), which is also not in the charter,” Lacson said.
He said recent additions to PCSO activities were covered by executive orders.
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