N. Vizcaya ‘jueteng’ takes on various disguises
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–The illegal numbers game has taken on a new disguise here following the arrival of Bingo 2 Balls, which, bet collectors said, was meant as a supposed legal alternative to “jueteng“.
Quoting gambling operators who met with a group of “jueteng” workers on Sunday, a source said the newly-revived “Bingo 2 Balls” operation here is purportedly sanctioned by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
“They showed us documents with the name of a certain corporation as a registered entity with the PCSO. This is why we were made to believe that this is now the legalized version of jueteng,” said the source, who asked not to be named for fear of his safety.
“Jueteng” has continued to flourish in this province as part of what police officials called “guerrilla-type” operations. Reports were rife, however, that this had the blessing of local officials here.
The source said gambling lords had wanted to shift their “jueteng” operations to the government-sanctioned STL, ostensibly to shield their workers from perennial threat of arrest by law enforcement operatives, and to avoid payment of bribe and protection money local and police officials.
“Paiba-iba ang sinasabi ng mga operators. May nagsasabing Bingo 2 Balls, at meron ding Online Bingo. Medyo nakakalito pero isa lang ang paulit-ulit na sinasabi–legal na daw ito, di gaya ng jueteng (There are varied claims. Some said it’s Bingo 2 Balls, others said it’s Online Bingo. But they made one thing clear–that this is already legal unlike jueteng),” the source, who was privy to the Sunday meeting, said.
Documents obtained by this writer, however, indicated that the purported redesigned numbers game being introduced here was Small Town Lottery, but supposedly under license from the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority.
In a letter to mayors here, Meridien Vista Gaming Corp. has asked for the issuance of a business permit, together with an endorsement from the town councils for the conduct of STL in the province.
Former police director Segundo Duran Jr., Meridien provincial coordinator, said the firm is a registered enterprise licensed to conduct gaming operations within the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport in Santa Ana town in Cagayan, which is being managed by Ceza.
“(Meridien) is authorized by the office of Ceza to set up betting station in any place as may be allowed by law in support to the virtual games conducted by aforementioned company outside the Cagayan Freeport,” Duran said.
But bet collection activities failed to take off on Monday after police officials here had warned that they would arrest workers who would take supposed STL bets for Meridien.
Police sources showed copies of a letter from Romualdo Quinones, PCSO STL project manager, stating that Isabela is the only province in Cagayan Valley that has an approved and operational STL license.
“Thus, any alleged STL operations in the other provinces under your jurisdiction are not authorized by the PCSO,” Quinones said in his letter to Chief Supt. Roberto Damian, Cagayan Valley police director.
Ceza officials, however, clarified that that while they have granted a gaming license to Meridien, a Spanish-owned company, the permit covered only “virtual gaming” and jai-alai operations.
“We never issue any license for STL because that is outside our jurisdiction. It is only PCSO that has that authority to issue STL licenses,” said Nilo Aldeguer, Ceza senior deputy administrator.