Monday, April 25, 2005

New unit against jueteng formed

New unit against jueteng formed

By Anthony Vargas, Reporter 

THE Philippine National Police on Sunday announced the formation of another special task force to go after all forms of illegal gambling in the country.

Despite the failure of previous antigambling task forces formed by the PNP and the Department of Interior and Local Government, Sr. Supt. Leopol­do Bataoil, PNP spokesman, told reporters the new special unit will conduct “aggressive operations against illegal gambling.”

The special unit, called Task Force Anti-illegal Gambling Operations, will focus on ridding Luzon of the illegal numbers game, jueteng.

The task force was formed by Interior and Local Government Secretary Angelo Reyes after the PNP chief, Director General Arturo Lomibao, admitted that Luzon is a major hub of illegal-gambling syndicates in the country.

The special unit will tap personnel from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.  It will be led by the CIDG director, Chief Supt. Ricardo Dapat.

Bataoil said the PNP chief is reminding all regional police commanders in Luzon to “intensify the campaign against illegal gambling” and enforce Republic Act 9287, the antigambling law.  He added that three-strike policy on jueteng is still active, pointing out that the senior police commanders will be held responsible for failing to stamp out jueteng in their jurisdiction.

At the height of antigambling campaign under then interior secretary Jose Lina several regional and provincial police commanders were relieved of their posts for failing to curb jueteng.  Lina had vowed to “eradicate jueteng within one year.”  He failed.

Among those who were relieved was Edgar Aglipay, who quickly recovered from this debacle and later appointed by President Arroyo as PNP chief. Lomibao replaced Aglipay upon the latter’s retirement early this year.

Under R.A. 9287, those proven to have placed bets on illegal gambling games can be sentenced to a minimum of 30 days to a maximum 90 days prison term.

Members of illegal-gambling syndicates face between eight years and 12 years in prison while operators can be sentenced to between 12 years and 14 years in jail.

Gambling financiers face a 14-year to 16-year penalty while government officials and policemen who coddle illegal gambling will spend between 16 years and 20 years in jail.

Elected officials found guilty of being involved in illegal gambling will also be fined P5 million and permanently disqualified from public office.

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