Archive for the ‘gambling’ Category

80k Signs Gathered Against Casino in Baguio City

April 19, 2009

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY — The Baguio Multi-Sectoral Group, an umbrella organization of religious associations in this mountain resort city, will spearhead the opposition to the operation of a casino in Camp John Hay here.

BMSG will gather at least 80,000 signatures to pressure national and local officials into abandoning a plan to operate the high-end gambling joint in CJH.

BMSG decided to launch the signature campaign and mass protest against the casino after it obtained a copy of a supposed contract between the Bases Conversion Development Authority and Fil-Estate Penta Capital Corp. on the plan to establish a casino in the world-class recreation facility.

Lawyer Alexander Bangsoy, BMG spokesman, said the supposed contract was signed last year but its existence was confirmed by the group only last week when it got a copy of the deal.

Due to the existence of the agreement, Bangsoy said, various sectors reacted and decided to conduct mass actions to voice out their opposition to the casino operation in CJH.

In 2004, the group, together with the academe and civic organizations in the city, had succeeded to abort the plan to establish a casino when it led a mass protest and gathered over 100,000 signatures.

The religious leaders are confident they can duplicate the successful drive with a big crowd and more signatures.

At the same time, the concerned sectors will be closely watching every move of the city officials in connection with the plan for the operations of the casino.

Under the agreement, BCDA will help Fil-Estate secure a franchise from the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corp. to operate a casino in CJH.

The group is hoping that Mayor Reinaldo A. Bautista Jr. will make good his pronouncement that there will be no casino operation during his stint as the city’s chief executive.

As of March 23, the city government had yet to receive a formal application or letter of intent from any group interested to operate a casino in the city.

The city council recently passed a resolution requesting concerned authorities to investigate the alleged casino operation or presence of high-stakes, on-line gambling in CJH, a former American rest and recreation center.

But the Baguio City Police Office and the National Bureau of Investigation have not yet come out with a report on the alleged high-stakes, on-line gambling.

During the past administrations, the city government had been issuing statements and resolutions opposing all forms of gambling in the city.

It was noted, however, that it was not able to stop the proliferation of lotto outlets and bingo games as well as other forms of illegal gambling in the city.(Northern Philippine Times)

Manila Times Exclusive: ‘Jueteng,’ illegal logging hound Isabela – Padaca

October 4, 2008

Despite making great progress in governance and electoral reform, Isabela Governor Grace Padaca said she faces much unfinished business in her fight against illegal gambling and illegal logging.

Padaca, who became popular for ending Isabela’s 40-year political dynasty of the Dy family and for recently winning the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, said the illegal numbers game jueteng is still rampant in the province.

Part of her difficulties is the public’s perception that “jueteng is a victimless crime” that provides livelihood for many people, she said during an exclusive roundtable interview with The Manila Times.

And she conceded that her success depends on whether “higher officials want it stopped.”

For example, Padaca told The Times that she asked the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office to establish a small-town lottery in Isabela, hoping that will become a substitute for the illegal game. But so far, no dice.

She added that most “jueteng operators talk to previous leaders [of Isabela],” making it harder to stop illegal gambling, because her political rivals remain influential and are capable of offering protection.

Illegal logging

Like jueteng, the governor said the province needed to provide legitimate livelihood to draw people away from illegal logging. She estimates that between 10,000 to 12,000 people are involved in illegal logging, and “many of the people involved in illegal logging are poor people.”

The province looked at providing those people with piglets, but many of them are so poor that they cannot wait for the three months for their animal to grow up.

Instead, Padaca said she approached private companies and nongovernment organizations, like Haribon Foundation and the League of Corporate Foundations, for help in establishing a reforestation program that will create jobs—as well as replace the denuded parts of the northern Sierra Madre.

The governor said the province has confiscated about a million board feet of illegally cut down trees—worth about P150 million in the black market.

With the help of Secretary Lito Atienza of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the confiscated wood is to be auctioned, and the proceeds due the provincial government would be used to fund livelihood programs, the governor said.

Tourism business

Padaca said illegal logging not only robs the environment of valuable resources, but also opportunities to develop eco-tourism in Isabela.

Of the one-million-hectare land area of the province, about 360,000 hectares are in the northern tip of the Sierra Madre mountain range.

Isabela has much to offer nature lovers, Padaca said, adding, “We even have a bonsai forest.”

And there is a lot of variety in the province, where there are a number of beach resorts that rival the world-famous Boracay in central Philippines, she said.

One such place is Honeymoon Island in Divilican town, she added.

But she concedes that infrastructure, like hotels, is still lacking.

Answering critics

Padaca said it’s unfair for her critics to brand her as anti-poor for her campaign to eradicate jueteng and illegal logging.

Her government has enrolled 130,000 people in the PhilHealth insurance program, which has raised some P73 million for her province, she said. That money has allowed the government to buy much-needed hospital equipment and fully equipped ambulances, she added.

Padaca is also working on a deal with the provincial government of Manitoba, which will hire 10,000 to 20,000 people from Isabela to work in Canada. The workers in demand are welders, accountants and restaurant crew, she added.

And Isabela has a scholarship program, the KTK or Kursong Trabaho Agad program, which helps young people take up vocational courses that help them get a job.
— Camille A. Bersola (Manila Times)

==============

My Take:

Padaca ang Panlilio’s experience proves one thing, even a government official like them can never combat illegal gambling if someone higher than them, and someone who controls the guns and goons are in favor of it.

Baguio City anti-gambling campaign snowballs

September 26, 2008

BAGUIO CITY – Is this the beginning of the end for the often killed but time and again resurrected ‘bingoteng’?

A hefty number of members of the Liga ng mga Barangay (Liga) in a manifesto dated September 5 declared they are “absolutely against Jueteng, its spin-off, and all forms of gambling.”

The manifesto comes on the heels of a resolution by majority of the board of directors of the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) withdrawing their support to the controversial “fundraiser” that threatened to divide the ABC last August.

Echoing the almost clichéd lines most often used by local officials amid calls for moral reform in the city, members of the Liga categorically said, “We now recognize that indeed, bingoteng is a spin-off of jueteng.”

ABC vice chair and Happy Homes Barangay chief Eva Marie Fianza said, “Signatures from other concerned, enlightened, and ‘conscientized’ barangay officials are still pouring in.”

She said, “Some of those who earlier favored bingoteng are now doing a turnaround realizing the ill-effects of bingoteng that has so far resulted to the moral degradation of some of our constituents and a bagful of bane promises.”

Claiming the manifesto reflects the Liga’s “unified stand,” the signatories said aside from bingoteng and jueteng, “other forms of gambling have slowly eaten away the values of hard work, of honesty, of decency among the members of our respective fiefs.”

Close to 60 of the 128-barangays earlier endorsed bingoteng as an alternative fundraiser to fund various barangay-based projects.

Former bingoteng supporters say, “For us who have initially acceded to the ‘bingo sa barangay’ (a.k.a. bingoteng) as a means of raising funds for barangay projects, we apologize to the citizens of our city, more particularly our youth.”

They admitted they never realized the evils that such have contributed to society, thus, the withdrawal of support.

The former bingoteng supporters also said they understand Republic Act No. 9287 (the Anti-gambling law) and they stand by it.

To prove their sincerity in fighting bingoteng and other forms of illegal gambling, the said local officials challenged locals to file cases against officials who “stray in [the] promise to fight all sorts of gambling in the city.”

They warned gambling operators not to even think about operating in their respective barangays or they would be dealt with accordingly. # ISL/PIO – Baguio City (NorDis)

‘Jueteng’ rampant in Pampanga – Panlilio

September 25, 2008

Jueteng, the notorious illegal numbers game, is alive and well in Pampanga and is estimated to be raking in more than P16 billion a year in that province alone, the governor told The Manila Times.

If one asked the Philippine National Police, they would say that there is no more jueteng in the province, said Pampanga Gov. Eddie “Among Ed” Panlilio, the priest who went on leave from the Catholic Church to run for elective office in 2007. He spoke to The Times in an exclusive roundtable interview on Tuesday.

The small-town lottery, or STL, that was introduced to lure away people from patronizing jueteng, is actually making it more difficult to go after those behind illegal gambling, he said.

For one, there are a lot of similarities between the small-town lottery and jueteng, and in some cases, the same set of people work both, Panlilio said.

The kubrador or collector in jueteng now goes by another name, the governor said in Filipino. That person is now called “a sales agent.”

Plus, Panlilio is skeptical that jueteng lords and other beneficiaries will allow the illegal numbers game to totally disappear, as was hoped with the introduction of a legal substitute.

If jueteng becomes legal, then the government will earn all the money and the gambling lords will lose out, he explained. Panlilio added that the sums involved are eye-popping.

The governor said that based on his information, the revenues from each jueteng draw ranges from P20,000 to P30,000 per barangay or village. There are three draws daily, including Sundays, and 500 villages in Pampanga, he said.

In a year, the figure comes out to between P10.95 billion and P16.43 billion in that province alone.

Because there is so much money involved, Panlilio said, “jueteng can corrupt the highest officer of the land.”

And if jueteng can buy the top officials, imagine what it can do to lower-ranking government employees, he added.

“Hindi po biro-biro ang jueteng [Jueteng is not a small deal],” the governor added.

He said he does not believe that jueteng—or gambling in general—helps people, as is argued by some quarters. “It encourages a culture of laziness.” Instead of working hard to earn a living, people learn instead to leave their future to chance, he added.

On Wednesday, Senior Superintendent Ernald Singian, the police chief in Pampanga, said, “Legally speaking, there’s no jueteng in Pampanga. What we have here is small-town lottery, which is legal [and played throughout the province].”

He played down Panlilio’s claim that jueteng is rampant in the province.

Bibingka approach

Panlilio said he is determined to eradicate jueteng, despite the gargantuan task. “We understand it’s a long, drawn-out battle.”

He likened his plan against jueteng to the “bibingka,” the popular local cake that is baked with fire from the top and bottom of the oven.

At the bottom, Panlilio said the province has launched a “comprehensive” program in partnership with various organizations. The bottom approach teaches people values, so they realize the social costs of illegal gambling, and this is complemented with a livelihood program.

At the top, the governor cited the fact that he has filed a plunder case against Bong Pineda, the husband of Panlilio’s political rival and former mayor of Lubao, Pampanga, Lilia.

Bong Pineda’s name figured prominently during the impeachment trial of former President Joseph Estrada. He was convicted of plunder, largely on the evidence that he accepted payola from jueteng lords.

But the case filed by Panlilio against Bong Pineda has not progressed at the Office of the Ombudsman. For now, the governor is resorting a signature campaign, calling on the Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to act on the case.

Panlilio said they have gathered about 5,000 signatures so far, and they are gathering more.
–Dante “Klink” Ang 2nd with Maricel Cruz (ManilaTimes)

LT execs say STL needed more in depressed towns

August 28, 2008

by Jimmy Laking

The municipal council of La Trinidad last week has withheld support for a proposal to operate small town lottery (STL) in the province, pending the report of the committees of peace and order and ways and means.
“Offhand, our sentiment is that it should not be operated in La Trinidad but in depressed towns like Tublay where additional sources of re-venue could mean much in improving basic services,” said councilor Thomas Chamos.

Councilor Albert Tacio said the committees would determine how STL operation would affect the peace and order situation and how much revenue it would provide the host municipality.

The proposal to operate STL in the province was presented by Marcelino Bullong, president of the Upland Numbers Amusement Corporation, citing employment opportunities and added re-venue as advantages for the host municipality.

In a letter to the municipal council, Bul-long added that STL would help regulate the proliferation of all forms of illegal gambling and vices “that struck at the moral fibers of” through measures that would be imposed by the local government units and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office itself.

The resolution has been endorsed by the League of Municipal Mayors of Benguet headed by Itogon mayor Mario Godio and the Provincial League of ABC presidents headed by board member Pacito Donato.
The mayor’s league resolution endorsed the operation of STL on an experimental basis as a means to regulate the illegal operations of the existing numbers game of jueteng.

The mayor’s league said jueteng has reached an incurable stage that must be regulated.

It added that STL could provide more sources of revenue for local government units thereby enhancing the delivery of basic services.

“There is need to subject the proposal to study by the committees concerned,” said vice mayor Samuel Esguerra.

Aside from its letter to the municipal council, little is known about the proponent and several municipal officials expressed concern that it does not appear to have a track record in running a province-wide STL operation.(BaguioMidlandCourier)

Gov orders police to shut down STL in Albay

August 22, 2008

By Ephraim Aguilar
Southern Luzon Bureau
First Posted 00:46:00 08/22/2008

LEGAZPI CITY – Albay Gov. Joey Salceda wants the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to halt small-town lottery (STL) operations in the province following allegations it is being used as a cover for the illegal numbers game “jueteng.”

In a statement, Salceda said he instructed Senior Supt. Joel Baloro, Albay police director, to immediately convey to the PCSO his directive to shut down STL operations in the province.

Salceda also cited persistent media reports about the alleged underdeclaration of STL bet collections.

Baloro, in a mobile phone interview, confirmed having received a directive from Salceda but claimed no knowledge of the reasons behind it.

However, he said he believed it had something to do with the attacks made by antigambling witness Sandra Cam against four Bicol governors last week, which got published in some tabloids.

Cam accused Salceda and three other Bicol governors – Sally Lee of Sorsogon, Jesus Typoco Jr. of Camarines Norte and Luis Raymund Villafuerte of Camarines Sur – of being responsible for the revival of jueteng in the region.

She also said these governors were being protected by “high-ranking officials of the Philippine National Police and the Department of Interior and Local Government.”

She said other politicians were banking on jueteng money to fund their campaign in the 2010 elections.

‘Guerrilla-type’

Salceda did not address Cam’s accusation in the statement and refused to grant further interviews.

Baloro denied the existence of organized jueteng in Albay but said there could be “guerrilla-type” operations in remote villages, where people think they could not be monitored by authorities.

He added that they were validating reports that STL operations were being used as a front for jueteng.

“There are reports of ‘bookies,’ a scheme where bets below P10 are not being remitted to STL and are instead being drawn outside,” Baloro said.

He said they had arrested some people claiming to be legitimate STL bet collectors but lacked proper IDs.

Lawyer Joel Descallar, president of the Pilipinas Pacific Rim Corp. (PPRC), which mans STL operations in Albay, said they thank Salceda for recognizing it is the PCSO’s discretion to shut down STL operations.

“STL is a national project and it would take only a (national-level intervention) to stop it,” Descallar said in a mobile phone interview.

No benefits

He denied allegations that the PPRC was being used in illegal gambling.

“There is no economic benefit (if we involve in jueteng). We are the legal operators of STL. We operate in the open. We are in the mainstream. We are legitimate business people,” he said.

“Also, there are big risks. Our license could be revoked and that does not commensurate any gain if there is,” Descallar said.

Nelly Loyola, PCSO-Albay lottery operations chief, said they respected Salceda’s directive but the PSCO has yet to receive an official, black-and-white copy of it.

=============

My Take:

This latest Salceda antic is just for show.

1. he has no legal right to stop the stl.

2. it is an open-secret that he supports jueteng(illegal numbers game) in albay.  in camarines sur, its the elder villafuerte (luis).

3. jueteng is the biggest source of money for the police and politicos in bicol because bicol is a poverty-stricken region.  wala nang iba pang source ng pera sa bikol, liban na lang kung ibenta nila ang mayon.

Archbishop Cruz pleads not guilty to libel charges

July 30, 2008

Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan Oscar Cruz pleaded not guilty to libel charges during arraignment before the Manila Regional Trial Court yesterday.

Judge Antonio Rosales ordered the arrest of Cruz on May 12 but later granted the motion to post bail filed by former solicitor general Estelito Mendoza, counsel of Cruz.

However, the former Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president believes the case against him will be dismissed.

“I don’t intend to insult, embarrass or malign the Pagcor female employees, after all I did not name them,” he said. “It was Pagcor who named them.”

The 73-year-old Cruz said the case against him was first dismissed by the Manila Prosecutor’s Office.

However, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) employees appealed to the Department of Justice, which reversed the Manila Prosecutor’s decision and filed the libel case in court, he added.

Twenty marketing assistants of Pagcor filed the criminal case against Cruz in 2004.

It arose from a news article published in several newspapers in which Pagcor was reported to have used women employees to act as “guest relations officers (GROs)” during the birthday party of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.

The complaining Pagcor employees did not attend the arraignment of Cruz.

They are: Sharleen Vincent Tecson, Elizabeth Berme, Daylin Cabinian, Cheryll Ann Ilano, Mylynn Manabat, Rizza Panganiban, Michelle Masbate, Ma. Bianca Gonzales, Kristine Joy Morales, Joy Anne Castillo, Agnes de Guzman, Anna Mirabilia Rosales, Lorica Canto, Ritzel Alday, Maylene Mandariaga, Leah Salvador, Cecilia Bermas, Ma. Consuelo Violeta, Mielyn Medalla, and Ma. Daisy Rivera.

The court set the preliminary conference at 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 26, and the pre-trial at 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 16.

Last May 14, Cruz posted P10,000 bail for his temporary liberty. – Sandy Araneta, Evelyn Macairan(PStar)

Jueteng in four Bicol provinces killing STL

July 25, 2008

DARAGA, Albay: While self-confessed jueteng lord Wildredo “Boy” Mayor filed libel charges against five media practitioners in Albay for implicating his name in the operation of illegal gambling, his wife councilor Cherry Mayor volunteered her husband to be a resource person on the operation of jueteng before the municipal council.

Cherry Mayor, chairwoman of Tagas village and concurrent ABC representative to Sangguniang Bayan made the offer after Councilor Lito Brecia delivered a privilege speech condemning the Philippine National Police (PNP) for its failure to eradicate the existence of the illegal numbers game.

Brecia, chairman committee on laws and former radio reporter of DZGB based on Legazpi City, asked Police Supt. Antonio Prayna, chief of police of Daraga, to appear before the August body to explain the proliferation of jueteng here.

The illegal gambling operation here is heating up again after jueteng whistle blower Boy Mayor filed two cases of criminal libel charges against Marites Nual, publisher of Dyaryo Bikol, Marlyn Relingado, associate publisher, Danny Calleja, editor and correspondent of Business Mirror, Job Belen, associate editor and correspondent of Philippine Daily Inquirer Southern Luzon Bureau and Rhaydz Barcia, news editor and correspondent of The Manila Times.

The Sangguniang Bayan of this town asked Prayna to appear again before the council after soliciting a signature from Fr. Jovic Lobrigo declaring this town as jueteng free. Unfurtunately, the parish priest of Our Lady of the Gate refused to sign the papers sent by Prayna.

After exhaustive questioning by the council, Supt. Antonio Prayna admitted there was indeed jueteng collection throughout the municipality, while the draw was made in the adjacent town of Camalig, Albay.

“He even went on radio, telling the people that there was no jueteng in Daraga. I am presenting a papelon that would somehow prove that there is jueteng and if you will look at this papelon this is the same papelon used for STL,” said Brecia.

Albay is the only province in Bicol with small town lottery operation, and jueteng operation is allegedly taking place in four mainland provinces, such as Sorsogon, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and in Albay which was gradually killing small town lottery operations.

In an interview with the regional network of ABS-CBN, Gov. Luis Raymund Villafuerte confirmed the illegal numbers game to be operating in Camarines Sur, and that PNP Bicol is unable to curb its operation.
— Rhaydz B. Barcia (ManilaTimes)

No to STL — Baguio dads

July 19, 2008

BAGUIO CITY — In a move intended to “hammer the last nail on the Small Town Lottery’s (STL) coffin,” the city council last Monday rejected proposals to operate, whether on temporary or permanent basis, the STL in the city.

Adopting the recommendation of its committee on laws chaired by Councilor Richard Cariño, the body also decided not to entertain any more proposals for STL operations in the future.

At the same time, the body adopted a resolution enjoining all law enforcement agencies and barangay officials to help eradicate all forms of gambling in the city.

Disinterested proponents

Two companies earlier offered to operate the STL in the city – the Green 2 Corporation represented by president Jaime Mangahas and the Horizontal Flyers Amusement Corporation headed by general manager Christopher Reyes. Mangahas and Reyes in separate letters, requested for the city council’s endorsement for the conduct of test runs for the STL.

The committee on laws, in its report, noted that these were the latest of the strings of offers received by the city on the STL despite the city council action on August 13, last year rejecting proposals to conduct test runs or operate the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office-sponsored games in the city.

The committee said that during the public hearing held on the issue last June 17 where representatives from various sectors unanimously opposed the STL test runs, the proponents did not show up along with the other applicants invited by the council including one Joji DG De Guzman, president of the Sumikadan ti Cordillera Gaming Corporation, Orville Roque, president of Joe Calf Amusement Corporation.

This clearly indicates the proponents’ lack of interest to pursue their respective proposal, according to the committee report. The committee also noted that the letters of invitation to the proponents were returned to the council as the address was “unknown” and the addressee could not be located.

“This is significant. To the mind of the committee, the proponents are not transparent of their real intention,” the committee noted.

Anti-gambling sentiment

STL or Lotto to the common residents, was revived in 2006 and was groomed by the administration as a legal lottery game in the tradition of sweepstakes and on-line bingo and lotto to combat jueteng in the countryside.

Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. assured that he would not allow STL in the city in keeping with the prevailing sentiment of residents against the entry of any form of gambling, whether sanctioned or not by the national government.

The city has an existing anti-gambling stand elucidated in Resolution No. 122-02 entitled “Expressing the Sentiment of the People of Baguio and the Policy of the City Government against Gambling.”

Metro Baguio Multi-Sectoral Movement led by religious leaders in the city, which had in the past been at the forefront of the successful campaigns against casino and lotto, also objects to STL saying it is just a legalized form of jueteng.

The city council also led in the fight for the reopening of the casino in 1991, the lotto in 1994, 1995 and 2004 by virtue of Resolution No. 221 series of 1989 and Resolution No. 122 series of 2002 which registered the city’s opposition to the entry of all forms of gambling in the city. # Aileen P. Refuerzo/PIO(NorDis)

Muzzling Archbishop Cruz

June 10, 2008

ARCHBISHOP Oscar Cruz did not cheat during the 2004 election, or bribed election officials with jueteng money. Neither did he have anything to do with the fertilizer scam, the north and south railway projects or any other gargantuan corruption and mega anomalies that trampled this country underfoot to emerge bleeding with undeserved poverty.

All he does is denounce irregularities—but most especially the most uncomfortable irregularity that is the present dispensation which he has tagged as the biggest gambling operator in the country.

Maybe the most courageous man-of-the-cloth there is in the country today, he has pursued his advocacy against gambling—and all the evils that come with it—up to the senate floor in a long battle of probing the fact that while Columbia had narco-politics, in the country it is jueteng that decides who seats in the uneasy chair of politics or not.

He could have chosen to settle comfortably in his cathedra and savor daily the courtesies and the more substantial returns regarded the dignitaries of the Catholic Church. But he has decided to walk the streets and suffer the brunt of an urban missionary, crucified almost daily with death threats and wanton attacks from those within who see Christianity at its best only in dispensing the sacraments and living within the framework of a baroque ecclesiology.

In June 2004, he assailed the government-owned casino operator, PAGCOR, for exploiting its female employees who were reportedly made to entertain the guests of the First Gentleman who was celebrating his birthday at the Malacañang Park, like “pitiful GROs” (guests relations officers).

Almost immediately the female employees, at the prodding of PAGCOR, filed a libel suit against the Archbishop who ironically was in fact defending their right against exploitation. The case was, of course, dismissed by the Manila prosecutor’s office for insufficient grounds.

But today Archbishop Cruz was issued a warrant of arrest after Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales, reportedly on Malacañang’s order, decided to resurrect the “long-dead” libel suit after failing to muzzle the Archbishop through relentless efforts of harass and intimidate him.

The same thing happened to John Baptist who denounced the immoralities of the king. The only consolation is, his head was placed on a platter.(CBCPNews)

Kalibo bishop opposes new plans for casino in Boracay

June 8, 2008

Kalibo, Aklan Bishop Jose Romeo Lazo has come out against revived plans to establish a casino on the world famous island resort of Boracay.

“Let me be clear. I have opposed and will continue to oppose casino gambling. I will not cooperate with any effort to establish casino gaming in Boracay,” Lazo said in an article posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) website.

The Kalibo prelate was reacting to the reported construction of a casino inside the posh Fairways and Bluewater Resort at the northern end of the 1,000- hectare island resort.

Lazo said he is worried a casino, with unlimited jackpots, would be a greater harm to his flock. Besides, he said, the tourism industry on the island has long been standing even without a casino.

“Boracay is a natural treasure of Aklanons and the Filipino people. We are for a family-oriented and wholesome island resort and we therefore want a drug-free and gambling- free Boracay,” he said.

He urged his parishioners and religious organizations “to unite, pray, reflect and act to express your stand and sentiments against gambling in Boracay.”

Last month, Lazo sent a letter of protest to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the planned casino but he has not receive any reply.

“Because Pagcor is under the authority of the President, the ace is still in Arroyo’s hands. I hope she will come out with a favorable response,” said Lazo.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) first pushed the plan of a casino complex in 2003 but President Arroyo ordered it shelved following a public protest. (Leslie Ann G. Aquino)

(MB)

Implement RA 9286 — Cruz

June 1, 2008

DAGUPAN CITY — Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz, a critic of illegal gambling, has called on the government to sincerely implement Republic Act (RA) No. 9286, a law against illegal gambling.

Its sincere implementation, he said, will end once and for all the proliferation of jueteng and other illegal numbers games in the country.

Known for his stand against illegal and legal gambling, Cruz, chairman of the Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng (KBLJ), criticized the government for the non-implementation of RA No. 9287 or the law that increased the penalties on illegal numbers games in the country.

He lamented that despite RA 9286’s enactment more than four years ago, it remains unimplemented, to the delight of illegal gambling operators.

“Its implementation is one big fat zero to this date. Thus, it is that jueteng has in effect, become more rampant, particularly in Pangasinan, better organized and is much alive,” Cruz said. (Mar T. Supnad)

Editorial Cartoon: Gambling Promotion

May 26, 2008

Fresh face of gambling

BORACAY CASINO Malay officials give nod amid Church protest

May 26, 2008

By JUN ARIOLO N. AGUIRRE

BORACAY – This island resort is inching closer to having a casino. The Sangguniang Bayan (SB) of Malay, Aklan endorsed the operation of a casino in the municipality.

Although the municipal council did not specify which part of Malay will the casino operate, it is believed that the move will pave the way for legalized gambling in Boracay, which is under the geopolitical jurisdiction of the town.

Councilor Rowen Aguirre, chairman of the SB Committee on Laws, said the casino proponent presented all the documents needed and these were all legal.

“We were told by the representatives of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) that they need our endorsement. We are only doing our job,” added Aguirre.

The SM member also said that with their endorsement, it is now up to PAGCOR to deal with the possible opposition of some sectors.

It was learned that a certain Base Game Corp. wants to operate a casino in this resort island.

Early this month, the Catholic Church reiterated its opposition to plans of having casinos in Boracay.

Sources at the Diocese of Kalibo disclosed that a PAGCOR representative visited the Kalibo Diocese adjacent to the Kalibo Cathedral to discuss the casino two weeks ago.

“The representative explained to us that they are looking for three possible resorts in Boracay interested in putting up a casino. But the Kalibo Diocese is still vigilant and we will oppose the operation of a casino in the resort island,” the source, who requested anonymity, said.

In the early 1990s, the Kalibo Diocese also led campaign rallies against PAGCOR’s proposal of putting up a casino in Boracay.

Then Jaime Cardinal Sin intervened and asked the state not to allow the establishment of the casino.

Several years after Cardinal Sin’s death, Boracay stakeholders also attempted to push for the operation of a casino but President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reportedly intervened.

“Now, they are back again to push for the casino. No matter what they do, we will still oppose all forms of gambling in Boracay,” said the source, a priest.

It was learned that Kalibo Bishop Jose Romeo Lazo is preparing a pastoral letter condemning the possible operation of casino in this resort island.

Sources said the casino operation will be free against the moratorium of construction issues in this resort island since three large resorts have already expressed its intent of running the casino operation in their respective establishments./PN

Ex-PNP chief now ‘jueteng operator,’ says Archbishop Cruz

May 23, 2008

OUTSPOKEN Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz alleged Wednesday that a retired Philippine National Police (PNP) director general is the operator of “jueteng,” an illegal numbers game, in the whole province of Pangasinan.

“Totoo ‘yan [That’s true],” Cruz told reporters at the weekly “No Holds Barred” forum of the National Press Club of the Philippines.

Cruz said the illegal operation translates to an estimated daily net earnings of P8 million to P9 million, or some P270 million a month.

Cruz, founder of the Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng, did not identify the former PNP chief who retired years back.

The prelate said that jueteng is again rampant in the whole country, particularly in Northern, Central and Southern Luzon areas, and also in part in the Visayas; while “masiao,” another form of illegal numbers game, is more popular in Mindanao.

“It’s very, very rampant,” Cruz said, even as PNP Chief Director Gen. Avelino Razon had given him the assurance that the whole PNP is one with Krusada’s anti-gambling advocacy.

Asked why jueteng is unstoppable despite PNP’s support, Cruz explained that it is so because the equation now is different than it was several years ago.

“Before it was the police who acted as protector of jueteng and gave money to politicians. Now, it’s the politicians who are the protectors and give money to the police,” Cruz said. “Police authorities are afraid of the politicians.”

He added that the much ballyhoed “small town lottery” or STL, which the government-run Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office launched several years ago to stop the operations of jueteng in the provinces, is a paper tiger.

Cruz said that the majority of STL franchises are also owned by known jueteng lords in the provinces and likewise used the existing jueteng structure.

“There is one person, a jueteng lord, owning as many as 23 STL franchises listed in different corporate names,” Cruz said.

The influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) had come up with strong collective statement two years ago against STL.

“This is an urgent and ardent plea addressed to our government officials from the local to the national level. It is also a straight and strong appeal to private individuals and corporate entities involved in the same serious moral issue with socio-political undertones,” CBCP President and Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said in behalf of the CBCP.

The STL, according to the CBCP, is no doubt the “legal cover-up for the illegal numbers of game of jueteng,” which simply worsened the problem of gambling because the operation of jueteng now goes side-by-side with STL with the same operators and collectors and the same poor victims twice exploited.

“STL and jueteng together is legal and illegal gambling combined. They are a dangerous and insidious pairing,” it pointed out, adding that as a result, the poor people become poorer while the gambling operators and payola recipients become twice enriched.

Likewise, the CBCP, in a pastoral statement dated March 10,2003, bluntly stated that gambling is a moral and social cancer. It also said that gambling in the country has become an insidious subculture of pervasive corruption.

It was followed by a collective policy last year, wherein the CBCP has directed Church personnel and Church institutions to refrain from soliciting or receiving funds from illegal and legal gambling so as not to promote a culture of gambling.

“Gambling that is organized, widespread and systemic, whether legal or illegal, is not desirable. It creates a culture that seriously erodes the moral values of our people,” the CBCP further said in its collective policy.
— William B. Depasupil (ManilaTimes)

Youth groups support Abp. Cruz, lambast move to “silence”government’s number one critic

May 16, 2008

MANILA, May 14, 2008—Militant youth alliance, Youth for Accountability and Truth Now! (YOUTH ACT NOW!) condemns the arrest order issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court against Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz, D.D. for the “resurrected” libel case which 20 female employees of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) filed against the prelate in 2004.

Alvin Peters, spokesperson of YOUTH ACT NOW!, told CBCPNews that the pending arrest of the good archbishop is yet another dirty tactics of the Macapagal-Arroyo government to silence its critics.

“We are yet again disgusted at how this administration sinks to the lowest of the low just to silence its critics. Bishop Cruz is a role model of youth and students and we admire him for standing up to his convictions despite political harassment,” said Peters.

“If they dare arrest the good bishop, they’ll be up against youth and students. Bishop Cruz once said in a gathering that he decided to break his silence in order to inspire and propel the youth into collective action for truth, accountability and social change. He has likewise always had the youth’s support,” he added.

On the other hand, College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), the oldest and prestigious organization of college and university publications in the Philippines also announced their support for Archbishop Cruz.

“The case is just another harassment against those people who expose the rottenness of this government,” explains CEGP spokesperson Vijae Alquizola.

He compared the present libel case against the prelate with the 2006 “libel case filing spree” made by the First Gentlemen, Atty. Juan Miguel Arroyo against 26 journalists from different mainstream publications.

“This case is another clear attack on freedom of expression. Like the other 45 libel cases, FG Mike Arroyo is once again involved. Where in the world can you find no less than the DOJ assaulting the rights of an elderly and respectable bishop just because he managed to annoy some very influential people? Only in the Philippines,” Alquizola said.

He also said that they cannot simply allow the likes of Arroyos and Gonzalezes to go on freely brandishing out libel cases against known critics of the government with neither rhyme nor reason.

The groups said that they will push for the decriminalization of libel so that it cannot be used by the authorities as a tool against its critics.

Meanwhile, YOUTH ACT NOW! committed to support Archbishop Cruz if he so decides to file a libel case against DOJ Sec. Raul Gonzalez.

“He should be given a taste of his own medicine,” ends Peters. (CBCPNews)

SMT Seminary supports Archbishop Cruz

May 16, 2008

OZAMIZ CITY, May 15, 2008—Saint Mary’s Theologate Seminary of the ecclesiastical province of Dipolog, Ipil, Ozamiz, Pagadian, Iligan and Marawe (DIOPIM) has registered their support to Archbishop Oscar Cruz, DD in the face of a libel case filed against him.

In an interview with CBCPNews, Rev. Fr. Severo C. Caemare, rector of St. Mary’s Theologate Seminary, Gango, Ozamiz City said they supported Archbishop Cruz in his crusade against corruption which resulted to the revival of his libel case filed four years ago by twenty women employees of PAGCOR.

“Archbishop Cruz is very vocal against the mismanagement of government officials, corruption and illegal gambling.” Caermare said.

He added, “I believe that the revival of libel case by the Department of Justice is the governments’ tactic to paralyze or threaten the local ordinary in his crusade against immorality.”

Caermare further added the entire Seminarians and SMT staffs are behind Archbishop Cruz in this new challenge.

“I believe that there were no libelous statements of Archbishop Cruz, but the intended outcome of such libel case is clearly to instill fear,” Fr. Caermare concluded.

More youth leaders behind Archbishop Cruz

May 16, 2008

OZAMIZ CITY, May 15, 2008—Various youth groups from the Archdiocese of Ozamis and the Dioceses of Pagadian and Iligan expressed their full support for Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz now facing libel charges at a local court in Manila.

They described the recent action of the Department of Justice as one of the dirty tricks of the Arroyo administration to silence its foremost critic from the Catholic church.

Nena Porol, Archdiocese of Ozamis’ Bible Youth Facilitator from the Paul VI Biblical Center said they are all behind the prelate in his continued criticism of the administration.

“The resurrection of libel case by Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez against Archbishop Cruz is clearly an outcome of being number one critic of the current administration,” Porol said in an interview with CBCPNews.

She added the Archbishop had no intention to offend the 20 female employees of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation when the he referred to them as if working as Guest Relations Officers (GROs) in a birthday party of the First Gentleman, Atty. Jose Miguel T. Arroyo. “There was no malicious intent because the prelate didn’t call them prostitutes,” she added.

On the other hand, Diocese of Illigan Bible Youth Coordinator Julius Mirafuentes said the usual practice nowadays in the government is to create problems in order to cover up the real issues.

He further added that the revival of libel case is to instill fear among known Arroyo critics.

“As youth leader in our local church, we strongly condemn such uncalled for scheme of Arroyo’s Government,” Mirafuentes explained.

Meanwhile, Diocese of Pagadian Parish Youth coordinator Albin Jim Genon told to CBCPNews that Archbishop Cruz is an inspiration to the youth in fighting against immorality but libel case is the weapon of certain government officials to silence its critics. (CBCPNews)

Editorial Cartoon: Huwarang Ina Awardee

May 11, 2008

Huwad Na Ina

Governor Wants Australian Mining Firm Out of Nueva Vizcaya

May 8, 2008

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya: Gov. Luisa Lloren Cuaresma, apparently slighted by the seeming disregard of a foreign mining firm for the provincial government’s “cease and desist order,” on Tuesday advised officials of the Australian mining firm to just leave the province if it could not pay the taxes and fees being collected by her administration.

“If you can’t pay, then better get out,” the irate Cuaresma told officials of the Australian-owned Oceana Gold Phils. led by Jake Foronda, general manager of its Didipio Gold-Copper Project, at the field office of the province’s Environment and Natural Resources Office in the said mining village in Kasibu, Nueva Viscaya, where the firm is conducting mining exploration activity.

Cuaresma, along with members of the provincial board led by Vice Gov. Jose Gambito and other provincial officials had gone the other day to Didipio to have the said order implemented and pressure Oceana Gold officials to pay the taxes and fees which the provincial government was charging for its quarrying activities.

But the mining firm refused to pay, insisting that the said activity was part and parcel of construction being undertaken by the firm.

Cuaresma’s cease and desist order to Oceana Gold stemmed from its failure to pay all provincial taxes relating to its quarrying activities in the said village, which provincial officials had estimated to be some P25 million.

“It is only right that the provincial government make this order against the mining firm. This is an expression of the provincial government’s power under the local government code,” said Vice Governor Gambito, who also chairs the 14-member provincial board.

The national government expects to collect around P30 billion from Didipio project’s 15-year operation, aside from the millions of local taxes and thousands of jobs to be generated for the town residents.

Meanwhile, Gambito said that the provincial board is readying a resolution authored by Board Member Tony Dupiano withdrawing its support for the Didipio project, which they endorsed unanimously in 2006, if the said firm would not pay the taxes it owes the provincial government.

Officials of the said mining firm led by Foronda met with the provincial officials at the field office of the provincial government’s Environment and Natural Resources Office in Didipio. The officials led by Cuaresma had earlier gone there in full force accompanied by elements of the Philippine National Police and the provincial security division.

Cuaresma, however, stressed that her administration was not questioning Oceana Gold’s whole mining activity per se, but only their nonpayment of fees for the quarrying activities being conducted by their subcontractor, Delta Earth Moving.

“We are asking only for what is due to the provincial government, but if they continue to ignore us or refuse our reasonable demands, that is another matter,” she said.

Earlier, the mining firm executives cited Environment Secretary Lito Atienza’s letter to Cuaresma which said that under the Mining Act of 1998, there was no need for a mining firm like Oceana Gold which has a Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) with the national government to file for a quarry permit with the provincial government and pay any necessary fees.

They later requested that the provincial government give them time to study its request and for the quarrying to be allowed to continue, but the governor turned this down.

In his earlier letter to Cuaresma, Atienza said that according to Section 48 of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, “a (FTAA) contractor has the right to extract and remove sand and gravel and other minerals without need of a permit . . . within the area covered by the mining agreement for the exclusive use in the mining operations.”

The mining firm had also earlier said that the activity that the provincial government called quarrying was essential to its ongoing construction activities and should not be taxed by the provincial government.

But, Gambito, a lawyer, insisted that in the opinion of the provincial government, the quarrying activity was fully under the activities it could levy taxes on based on the local government code.
–Francis C. Hidalgo Jr.

Small town lottery attempts comback in Baguio

May 8, 2008

BAGUIO CITY (Apr. 29) – Not really dead, an attempt for an Small Town Lottery (STL) operation in the city is springing back to life after its failed bid mid last year.

Green 2 Corporation again wrote the city council to favor “test runs” in the city, unluckily though, in Monday’s regular session of the 14-member city council failed to discuss it.

On April 14, a certain Jaime Mangahas, president of the Green 2 Corp., the same firm that attempted the city council’s favorable response on July 2007, asked the latter’s authority for “test runs” of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) STL project.

Mangahas also asked the legislative body, who apparently sat down on several STL proposals in the past because of public pressure against all forms of gambling including legalized ones; to manage and operate the actual test runs in the city.

Councilor Richard Cariño, head of the laws committee where the STL proposal was referred to opted to bring the issue to an en banc decision, thus Monday’s supposed regular session’s number 59 agenda.

After the May polls, then newly-elected city Vice-mayor Daniel Fariñas said STL proposals can be entertained once again as long as it will be within the usual process.

This after STL operators-applicants wanted to lurk in the shadows via the local legislature with the help of two “graduating” legislators.

Such efforts to ram through an STL “test run” however turned futile when it was deferred, then inadvertently scratched out of the city council’s agenda during the last session of the old council before the new set of councilors took over on July 2, 2007.

Then Desita Garcia, manager of the same Green 2 Corp. on September 1, 2006, asked then acting City Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. to approve a “test run”.

Also on October 13, 2006 another letter by a second proponent named as Alexander Trinidad, president and chairman of D New Ace Builders Corporation requested amendments to a city ordinance on STL operations in the city; an issuance of a resolution condemning jueteng and permanently erasing such via endorsing STL operations in the city.

Not contented, another letter on November 19, also in 2006 by Orville M. Roque, president of JOECALF Amusement Corporation, was received by the city mayor intending to operate STL.

Pending discussions by city councilors however, is Mayor Bautista’s firm stand against gambling in the city as he vowed he will veto any measure to allow gambling.

Bautista earlier wanted all games of chance applications pending in the council to be put on hold, as he made a gentleman’s agreement with the old council members.

With the composition of the new set of councilors, however, with four of those who agreed against STL with him, the ball rests on the city council composed mostly of lawyers.# Ace Alegre for NORDIS

Ang Pokpok

April 26, 2008

The gambling lord\'s geisha