PUERTO PRINCESA CITY: The move to oust Mayor Lucilo Bayron allegedly for graft and corruption took a nasty turn when a whistleblower in the jueteng scandal that rocked the country years ago claimed the former wanted to bring back gambling in the province.
Sandra Cam, who implicated the family of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on jueteng payola in 2005, said a gambling lord contacted her recently to arrange a meeting with former Mayor Edward Hagedorn because Bayron and retired Police General Eduardo Matillano wanted to operate jueteng and small town lottery (STL) in the area.
“Hagedorn’s stubborn stand against illegal gambling has triggered the wrath of his long-time nemesis Matillano, prompting the latter to rehash long-buried and dismissed cases against the former mayor,” Cam said.
In a phone interview, Cam told The Manila Times their contact to the gambling lord (whose name she withheld) was a certain “Nora de Leon Co” said to be the STL Queen.
She said that Hagedorn told the gambling lord that he has no say in the matter since he is no longer in office. But once he becomes the city’s chief executive, Hagedorn said he would pursue his fight against all forms of gambling. During his term, the former mayor eliminated illegal gambling in Puerto Princesa.
Cam disclosed that the meeting of Matillano, Bayron and Co to plan the STL operation took place two weeks ago in Manila. She added that her source is very reliable and she was not scared of being sued by Bayron or Matillano.
She said Co’s “closeness” to Matillano dates back to his days as director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) whose primary aim is to eliminate illegal gambling.
Coinciding with the time of the “alleged meeting.” Matillano, exploiting a three-year-old report by the Commission on Audit (COA), filed a graft and corruption case against Hagedorn at the Ombudsman.
However, the popular former mayor is confident the Ombudsman would dismiss this for lack of merit.
Bayron is facing a recall election following charges of graft and corruption, mismanagement and the rising criminality in the area. While this was approved by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in April 1 under Comelec Resolution 9864, the recall process was temporarily put on hold due to the lack of funds.