BAGUIO CITY (Dec. 19) — Alleged jueteng operations hiding under the cloak of legalized bingo games is stiffly facing Cordillera policemen’s drive to stamp out the illegal numbers game.
In yet another raid three days after they again swooped down on two “gambling dens” including a barangay hall last week netting 49 alleged jueteng “kubradores (bet collectors) and revisadores (bet reviewers)”, another 18 were hauled to Camp Dangwa in La Trinidad, Benguet on Monday afternoon to face violations of anti-gambling laws as Cordillera police intelligence and investigation division chief Sr. Supt. Ulysses Abellera insists that the “bingo sa barangay” operation in the city and adjacent towns in Benguet is actually jueteng.
Three weeks ago a local court declared as legal the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC)-operated “Bingo Sa Barangay” amid protests even by Acting Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. and suspended mayor Raul Yaranon who both see that it does not look good for officials to be operating a numbers game that looks like jueteng.
“We have confirmed reports that it is jueteng and not bingo,” Abellera told this reporter after the Thursday raid. He added that they have been receiving negative feedbacks on the operations, adding, “and after several months of verification, we found that it is jueteng.”
Its promoters led by ABC head Rufino Panagan who sits in the city council and Trancoville barangay chairman Albert Della had been insisting that it is perfectly legal as they are invoking the right of barangays to generate funds as their “fiscal autonomy”.
Monday’s raid on a dimly lit cramped room at a parking space along Mabini St. here showed up items like “papelitos” similar to that of jueteng operations and cards and larger paper cards where the numbers of the three-draw-a-day operations are indicated. Not only that the items seized were the same as Monday’s but perhaps the “bingo people” caught by policemen revising the bets.
Police authorities insists that the manner how the “bingo sa barangay” is being operated in very similar with jueteng. Two numbers are drawn and no “tambiolo” where the winning numbers are drawn.
Abellera claimed that the operators skirted around the jueteng numbers of 1-37 and instead employed 1-75, but actually the 38-75 numbers have a corresponding 1-37 equivalent in a decoding scheme of times-2-minus-one. Himself also a lawyer, Abellera insists that what the court declared legal was bingo and not jueteng.
Other law enforcement agencies in the Cordillera who were tied with the questions on the court about the bingo-teng operations are also studying their actions as they also reportedly receiving reports that the operation is jueteng.
But police’s drive against the bingo games that according to very reliable sources is netting P2 million daily is facing also a stiff fight through the courts.
Lawyer Edgar Avila, defending the bingo-teng operators said he is filing the second set of raps against Cordillera police director Chief Supt. Raul Gonzales, Abellera and the intelligence operatives who conducted the second raid.
Cordillera intelligence operatives earned their first set of raps on Friday morning for illegal arrest, indirect contempt of court and robbery raps.
Monday’s raid said Avila will earn Gonzales, Abellera and the intelligence operatives indirect contempt of court and criminal case of robbery, extortion and illegal arrest. All of them will also face administrative cases of conduct unbecoming and violation of law. “Then let the courts decide,” the lawyer added. # Ace Alegre for NORDIS