Metro to remain jueteng-free, says NCRPO

- Non Alquitran And Cristina Mendez -
Metro Manila will remain jueteng-free.

The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) made this promise yesterday as officials warned the five district directors as well as station and precinct commanders of relief should they allow the illegal numbers game to resurface in their jurisdiction.

Earlier, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Calderon noted the resurgence of jueteng in several parts of Luzon and issued a stern warning to police unit commanders to sustain their campaign against illegal gambling or face immediate relief.

"Basta kami dito sa NCRPO walang jueteng. At susundin naming ang kautusan ng aming chief PNP," said Chief Superintendent Eric Javier, the NCRPO’s chief of staff.

Javier said the NCRPO would strictly implement the PNP’s "1-3-2" strike policy.

Under the policy, the precinct command would be relieved during the first raid on jueteng dens under his jurisdiction. The station commander would be sacked after three strikes and the district directors after two station commanders under him are relieved.

Javier emphasized that newly-designated NCRPO chief Director Reynaldo Varilla made it known in his first command conference last Aug. 16 that they should go hard against jueteng.

Varilla failed to return repeated calls by The Star yesterday.

During the 15-month term of Varilla’s predecessor retired Director Vidal Querol, jueteng was not allowed to resurface in Metro Manila.

At least five precincts and station commanders were sacked after elements of the Regional Intelligence and Special Operations Office (RISOO) made successful raids against jueteng dens in their areas of responsibility during Querol’s term.

Reports reaching The Star showed that jueteng operators tried to stage a "dry-run" in an area near the railroad tracks in Manila three days ago.

But the operation folded up after a team from the Manila Police District (MPD) was dispatched to go after them.
True crackdown
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. challenged yesterday Calderon to prove that he is not mounting a superficial or cosmetic campaign against jueteng.

Pimentel said Calderon must start by jailing and prosecuting big-time gambling lords to prove that he is serious in the all-out campaign against jueteng.

"The crackdown on jueteng will just be a farce if only the lowly bet collectors will be targeted and caught in the PNP’s renewed crackdown," the senator said.

Pimentel said the PNP cannot use as an excuse the lack of efficient laws against jueteng because Congress has enacted the new Anti-Jueteng Law (Republic Act 9287), which took effect in 2004.

The new anti-jueteng also imposes heavier penalties on operators and personnel of underground gambling outfits and strengthens the hand of law enforcement agencies in going after gambling syndicates.

Pimentel assailed the apparent failure of the PNP to use this law in the anti-illegal gambling drive.

He said the PNP is still using an antiquated Marcos decree in arresting and prosecuting illegal gambling operators and personnel.

Calderon warned PNP commanders at the regional, provincial and other levels they would be relieved if they could not stop the outlawed numbers game in their territorial jurisdictions.

"Let’s see if Director General Calderon can implement his order without fear," Pimentel said. "Many of his predecessors said the same thing but jueteng continued to proliferate. Big money is involved in jueteng and not too many people are able to resist its allure."

At the same time, Pimentel lauded Senate President Manuel Villar and Sen. Franklin Drilon, chairman of the committee on public order and illegal drugs, following their assurance they will support the reopening of the inquiry into the jueteng scandal.

He said, however, that the probe will be fruitful only if new witnesses will come out in the open and sacrifice for the good of the nation by naming names.

"A witness has approached me and asked me to present him as a witness," Pimentel said. "I am willing to do so if he is willing to appear before the Senate committee without any conditions. I assume that he is still alive and is not afraid to do so. Otherwise, the Senate might as well forget about ferreting out the truth about the jueteng menace that threatens the existence of our democratic experiment."











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