PANGASINAN: Some forms of illegal gambling such as drop-ball and color games are still rampant in Dagupan City and four other towns here according to the monitoring report submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte by the Citizens Movement Against Crime, Corruption, Illegal Drugs and Gambling Inc.
Prof. Salvador Singson-de Guzman, who heads the citizens watchdog, told The Manila Times that policemen in Dagupan City and the towns of Mangaldan, Malasiqui, San Jacinto and Asingan are helpless in implementing Executive Order No.13 which Duterte issued on February 2 to strengthen the fight against illegal gambling.
Operators of the drop-ball and color games carry on with their illegal activities inside the mini-carnivals they have set up in villages.
In a letter sent to the President, De Guzman named Punong Barangay Boyet Magat of Parayao, San Carlos City as operator of two mini carnivals with 11 drop-ball cubicles in Barangay Bonuan Boquig and in Bonuan Binloc both in Dagupan City.
The mini-carnival with seven drop-ball cubicles along the provincial highway in Bonuan Binloc is only about 300 meters away from the house of former House Speaker and Fourth District Rep. Jose de Venecia Jr while those in Bonuan Boquig is five meters away from the Bonuan Boquig Elementary School.
Magat was not available when The Manila Times sought for comment on the report.
According to Margarita Gonzales of Bonuan Boquig village council, the operation of Magat’s mini-carnival with drop ball games started on January 25 and ongoing up to the present. Magat is paying P7,000 per week to village chairman Joseph Maramba allegedly without receipt from.
Barangay officials in Bonuan Binloc led by Domingo Ubando also confirmed that the operation of drop-ball and mini-carnival started on February 7 and Magat reportedly pays P10,000 weekly to Barangay Chairman Pedro Gonzales.
A Dagupan City police officer who asked not to be named told The Manila Times Magat’s drop ball games were closed from February 8 to 11 on orders of Supt. Niel Miro, city police chief, but resumed its operation on the night of February 12 up to this writing.
De Guzman said in Mangaldan town, drop balls games – in four mini-carnivals along the poblacion owned and operated by Ricardo Flores – have been going on since October 2016.
Flores denied he is operating four other mini-carnivals and drop-ball games in the villages owning only the carnival and drop-balls in the poblacion saying it is legal being held in line with the town fiesta of Mangaldan in April.
In Malasiqui town, De Guzman also named Barangay Chairman Edgardo Terrado of Asin East as protector of the mini-carnival and drop ball games operated by a certain Joel Billiones, his brother-in-law.
De Guzman and teachers in San Jacinto Catholic School also denounced the operation of four cubicles of drop-ball by a certain Hakit Ibasan in San Jacinto town public plaza. The ball game was put up in November and never stopped since Ibasan is said to be contributing one sack of rice and paying P4,000 to the chief of police every week.
In Asingan town, the group named Barangay Chairman Cresencio Piso of Carusucan Norte as the alleged operator of drop-ball now and the chief of police never conducted any operation to stop this illegal gambling.
De Guzman said ball game operators earn a minimum of P5,000 daily but are not paying amusement tax or mayor’s permit for lack of legislative measures to impose any kind of tax.
The operator of the mini-carnival and drop ball in the villages can easily establish their operation by paying only P3,000 a week to the barangay chairman with fiesta celebration as front and gives weekly payola to the police.
Meanwhile, PNP Provincial Director, Senior Supt. Ronald Oliver-Lee reported that since February 12, police operatives have arrested more than 500 people, mostly senior citizens, students and farmers for violating the anti-gambling law.
Nabbed for playing mahjong and card games may post P12,000 bail while operator of the drop ball and other illegal games are recommended P20,000 bail bond for their temporary liberty.