BAGUIO CITY (Feb. 22) – Dismissing allegations made by Councilor Galo D. Weygan in his privilege speech as hearsay, the city council nevertheless agreed to bring the issue of jueteng payola to the attention of concerned public officials and agencies and take up the issue during an executive-legislative meeting.
Although some of the councilors said that the jueteng menace does not only exist in the city, but also in other cities and towns of the country, it was not easy for most of them to admit or deny they were on the take.
Councilor Perlita Chan-Rondez, one of the two councilors who openly professed innocence in the alleged jueteng payola, viewed Weygan’s privilege speech as a fishing expedition. The other was Councilor Rocky Thomas Balisong. Weygan, in his privilege speech city gave some P1.5 million to certain public officials.
In his speech Weygan noted that the “usual practice before, the jueteng payroll usually lists the RD-PNP, governor, the mayor among other officials and peace officers, and even BOCAPS (to mean barrio captains)”. He also alleged that the payroll system is a standard operating procedure in the numbers game.
Weygan said that although he did not have hard data, he brought the issue to the attention of the councilors so as not to give the public the notion that “all is silent in the western front,” He said “to the common tao, silence means the news is true.”
Some councilors suggested that the matter be referred to the committee on laws but still others believe that referring it to any committee would mean recognizing what they called “an unfounded and unsupported allegation.”
The lawyers among the councilors wanted solid evidence for the allegation to merit their endorsements with the ombudsman or the police authorities, who they said are in charge of uncovering anomalies in public offices.
Weygan said whether big or small, gambling can cause domestic trouble, with government officials engaged in gambling they may try to find ways to commit graft and corruption. He cited the case of a La Union city where officials were allegedly tempted to commit corruption with the opening of a Casino.
None of the councilors openly argued against the illegal numbers game during the deliberations that made Weygan’s crusade a lonely one, an observer in the gallery commented. # Lyn V. Ramo for NORDIS