Believe it or not, but the Central Luzon police command has declared Pampanga, which Sen. Aquilino Pimentel has dubbed the "Vatican" of jueteng, and the rest of the region now "totally free" of the illegal numbers game.
Chief Superintendent Alejandro Lapinid, the new regional police director, cited reports from the provincial police directors of Pampanga, Bulacan, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Bataan and Zambales declaring "negative jueteng operations" in their respective turfs.
In the case of Aurora, there was nothing to report since jueteng never really thrived there in the first place," he said in his first press briefing yesterday. </P> <P>Lapinid took over as the new Central Luzon police director last May 5, replacing Chief Superintendent Rowland Albano who had admitted neglecting the anti-jueteng drive "a bit" due to other pressing concerns like criminality and illegal drugs.
Chief Superintendent Oscar Calderon, Philippine National Police deputy director, who was present in the press briefing, however, admitted some difficulties in the anti-jueteng campaign, noting that thousands of families have relied on the illegal numbers game for their livelihood for years.
Angeles City Mayor Carmelo Lazatin, who once chaired the House committee on games and amusement, said many of his constituents have sought immediate financial help since the renewed police crackdown on jueteng. </P> <P>Lazatin estimates that in his city alone, some 1,200 families have derived income from jueteng.
Lapinid said he has already informed PNP chief Director General Arturo Lomibao "that jueteng (in Central Luzon) has been totally stopped." </P> <P>He downplayed reports brought to his attention during the press briefing that jueteng was still continuing in Pampangas second district, which covers Lubao, hometown of President Arroyo.
He cited the report of Senior Superintendent Rolando Espina, Pampanga police director, declaring the entire province jueteng-free. </P> <P>"We can even cite to you the winning number combinations in that area in the past days," said newsman Fred Roxas, prompting Lapinid to vow to look into the matter. </P> <P>Lapinid said he will seek the help of governors and other local officials in Central Luzon to provide livelihood assistance to their constituents displaced by the anti-jueteng campaign.
The help of local officials and even the private sector is very important now. We are asking them to help those displaced by jueteng and provide them with alternative livelihood," he said. </P> <P>To prevent jueteng personnel to shift to the illegal drugs trade to provide for their families immediate needs, Calderon said police have to be alert on this possibility. </P> <P>Meanwhile, Calderon said Camp Crame is not imposing any quota on jueteng raids and arrests.
We have had sad experiences on that. There were times that the quota just led to a moro-moro where raids were merely staged just to (meet) the quota," he said.
Calderon, however, said the "three-strike policy" will be strictly implemented, meaning a police chief will be relieved from his post if three successful jueteng raids by outside police teams are conducted within his turf.
Lazatin said he has always batted for the legalization of jueteng. "We proposed this when I was still in Congress, but it did not gain support," he said