CALASIAO, Pangasinan — This town’s vice mayor is facing an investigation after 40 jueteng collectors were arrested last Friday by combined elements of the provincial police and Task Force Jericho in his house where the illegal numbers game’s draws were reportedly being held.
"If evidence (shows) that the vice mayor (Narciso Chuson) is involved, we will have to act accordingly," said Interior and Local Government Secretary Jose Lina.
As this developed, Health Undersecretary Epifanio Lacap denied talks that he has taken over jueteng operations in Pampanga with the alleged blessings of Lina.
"(They are) all lies," said Lacap, a former three-term mayor of Masantol town. He blamed a certain Otto Balboa, tagged as one of the top jueteng operators in Central Luzon, for the allegations.
Lacap said Balboa has been spreading the allegations since he was mayor because of his anti-jueteng drive and that of his wife, who was re-elected mayor of this town.
Task Force Jericho, tasked to go after illegal gambling throughout the country, confiscated jueteng paraphernalia and about P6,720 in bets in Chuson’s house.
"Of course, we will file a case if that’s really what we will gather from the report," Lina said.
Superintendent Leopoldo Bataoil, Pangasinan police director, said he has instructed his investigators to file charges against the arrested cobradores (collectors).
"He (Chuson) will not be spared from the investigation. If evidence will warrant, we will file a case against him because as a public official, he is not supposed to engage in illegal activities," Bataoil said.
The STAR tried to get in touch with Chuson at the town hall but was told that he was busy.
Meanwhile, Task Force Jericho arrested 27 jueteng collectors and maintainers of video karera machines in a series of raids in Sta. Rosa and San Pablo City, both in Laguna, over the weekend.
Lina said the relief of at least 70 police chiefs throughout the country, including some in Pangasinan, due to their failure to stamp out illegal gambling, will be carried out anytime.
Bataoil welcomed the news, saying Lina’s move will revitalize his command. — With Ding Cervantes and Perseus Echeminada