By Jennifer P. Rendon
There’s no big time illegal gambling operation in Region 6.
This was the assertion of Police Brigadier General Rene Pamuspusan, Western Visayas police chief, amid small-scale arrests following the intensified anti-illegal gambling campaign.
Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) records indicated that 35 operations were conducted from February 10, the time when PRO-6 started its anti-gambling drive, until Feb. 18.
Most of the operations were for violation of Presidential Decree 1602 (Providing Stiffer Penalties on Illegal Gambling), particularly persons who played tong-its, other card games and even bug-oy.
Of the 35 operations, 19 were against violation of PD 1602, nine for Republic Act 9287 and seven for PD 449.
RA 9287 primarily amends PD 1602 which imposes penalty to any person taking part in all forms of illegal gambling by exclusively increasing the penalties on jueteng, masiao and last two while leaving other enumerated illegal gambling activities with the same degree of penalties.
PD 449, on the other hand, is the illegal cockfighting law.
135 persons were arrested in the 35 operations.
Most them (74 persons) were collared because of PD 1602 violation, 51 for PD 449, and 10 for RA 9287.
The 35 operations led to the confiscation of P17,886 cash believed to be gambling bets.
PRO-6 statistics also showed that Negros Occidental conducted the most number of operations with 14; Bacolod City, 7; Antique, 5; Iloilo province, 4; Capiz, 3, and Iloilo City, 2.
Aklan and Guimaras police failed to arrest a suspect.
Some observers had said that some police units, in order to notch an accomplishment, will be contented with arresting tong-its players who are mostly elderly or senior citizens with bets for as low as P5.
But whether small-scale or big-time, Pamuspusan said that the numbers indicate that illegal gambling in Western Visayas is far from organized.
“I came from Region 1 and Region 4-A, without really questioning the PNP there, so I know the difference,” he said.
For whatever it’s worth, “what is clear now is that our leaders on the ground, ‘yung mga lower unit directors, are not on the take,” he said.
Almost two weeks ago, the PNP announced that it will wage war against illegal gambling. And again, the PNP leadership has declared the “no take policy on illegal gambling.”
Pamuspusan said he also ordered all provincial and city police directors to go on full scale operations against illegal gambling in their areas and strictly impose the full force of the law.
He said they will also implement the one-strike policy which would be applied on police unit commanders who fail to curb illegal activities.
On Saturday, PNP chief Archie Francisco Gamboa ordered all PNP regional directors to stamp out jueteng in one week.