IS there or isn’t there continued jueteng operations in the province?
If you ask Senior Supt. Mariano Luis Verzosa Jr., officer-in-charge Pangasinan police director, he will confidently say the province is jueteng-free.
On the other hand, Retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz, a long-time crusader against illegal gambling, would respond to that with: “Please tell that to the Martians”.
Verzosa, speaking at the Media Forum of the Pangasinan Press Club last Wednesday, said “jueteng has been almost eradicated already” when he assumed his post about two months ago,
He, however, admitted that there are “a few that continue to operate” but insisted that collectors seen around towns are actually for jai-alai bets allegedly operated by Atong Ang’s Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation.
Verzosa said the police cannot do anything about this because there is a court injunction that prevents law enforcers from stopping jai-alai betting operations and the control of jai-alai operation is under the Games and Amusement Board.
He also explained that jai-alai operators are beset with an internal management problem for the so-called bookies as some collections for jai-alai are not remitted and instead brought to jueteng operators.
He said some jai-alai operators have sought police help in curbing this practice but he advised them that it is an internal problem in their group.
“So we are sort of relaxed against jueteng because it is jai-alai that’s operating in Pangasinan,” Verzosa said.
Meanwhile, Cruz, chairman of the Krusada ng Bayan Laban sa Jueteng laughed at the report that jai-alai has replaced jueteng.
“Jueteng never stopped because there is no word from the Chief Executive that he doesn’t want it,” he said.
Cruz said jueteng remains strong in Luzon, particularly in Central, Northern and Southern Luzon.
“It is not a priority of this administration,” he said adding that “it is hard to fight money”.–Eva Visperas