Isko, 5 councilors released

Sandy Araneta - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno and five councilors arrested Saturday by operatives of the Manila Police District (MPD) for allegedly sponsoring a bingo game in Sta. Cruz district were released yesterday.

Moreno and District 3 Councilors Jong Isip, Joel Chua, Re Fugoso, Letlet Zarcal and Yul Servo were ordered released by Prosecutor Elaine Yarra-Cerezo, chief of the Manila Inquest Division, at 4 a.m. They were detained at the MPD Station 3 for 11 hours.

The prosecutor said they were released for further investigation and will undergo preliminary investigation this week.

The vice mayor went to the bingo event Saturday afternoon on Tambunting Street after he received a call from one of the councilors that policemen had arrived to stop the game for being illegal.

MPD Station 3 chief Superintendent Ricardo Layug said his men requested the councilors to stop the bingo game since they had no permit from the city hall.

He said a commotion ensued when Moreno arrived and questioned the police.

Moreno and the councilors were arrested and brought to Manila City Hall for inquest at 2:30 a.m. yesterday for violation of Presidential Decree 1602 as amended by Republic Act 9287 or the anti-illegal gambling law, obstruction, assault on a person in authority and resisting arrest. 

Vice President Jejomar Binay and former President Joseph Estrada were reportedly present during the inquest.

For his part, Moreno said their release proved there was nothing illegal in the bingo event, which was held in a private property. 

“We were vindicated,” he said. “Fiscal Cerezo ordered our release for lack of evidence. It shows we did nothing wrong.”

He said that bingo is not an illegal form of gambling Under RA 9287.

Moreno said illegal gambling operations like “tupada” or illegal cockfight thrive in Manila.

“Why don’t they arrest those involved in tupada, bookies and video karera? Does money change hands in these illicit operations? Why don’t they go after illegal gambling operators instead of wasting their time on trying to stop us from what we’re doing?” he asked.

“We will fight hoodlums... those who have been throwing their weight around because of the belief that they are the law. We should always remember that we are in a civilized society where tyrants have no place,” Moreno added.

He also urged law enforcers to reject unlawful orders “from higher ups.”

Moreno branded their arrest as political harassment.  

“This harassment was not the first time. They even executed a peace covenant with us and now, here comes another political harassment,” he said.

Moreno said he and the arrested councilors were being harassed after they left Lim and joined the camp of Estrada, who is running against Lim in the May elections.

Binay and Estrada went to the police station Saturday night to check on their allies.

Lim lauds police, denies hand in arrest

Meanwhile, Lim yesterday commended MPD policemen for upholding the law regardless of who the violators are.

Lim denied that he had a hand in the arrest.

“That’s the problem…you will commit a crime and when you’re arrested, you’ll point to me? They’re putting political color to this. Just face the truth and question the arrest if it’s illegal,” Lim said on radio.

He added he will question before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) if there was a violation because the confiscated bingo cards allegedly contained the names of Estrada, Moreno and several councilors.

Palace won’t comment

Malacañang, meanwhile, said it will not comment on Moreno’s arrest allegedly ordered by Lim, who is a member of the ruling Liberal Party.

 â€œWe have nothing to do with that, so we’re not going to make any comment one way or the other. I have no details on that. I suppose we just let the parties involved comment on that,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said yesterday.

 As far as the Palace is concerned, the issue does not merit any statement from the camp of President Aquino, especially because there was no direct accusation from anybody that the national government had a hand in the arrest of Moreno’s group.

Lim served as director of the National Bureau of Investigation during the time of the late President Corazon Aquino. – With Rey Galupo, Delon Porcalla


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