Atong Ang’s on-line illegal gambling operations

Deposed President Joseph Estrada’s former gambling consultant Charlie “Atong” Ang’s on-line illegal gambling operations under the Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation (MVGC) appears to be unstoppable, sprouting like mushrooms in many towns and cities in Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Western Visayas, Southern Tagalog and the Bicol regions.

And the various law enforcement agencies like the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation, including the media seems to be quiet in going against or reporting about the alleged illegal activities of the MVGC.

Very recently, the Department of Interior and Local Government ordered a review of the MVGC’s activity in the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte following reports that the gambling outfit was operating as a jueteng front disguised as PCSO-authorized Small Town Lottery (STL) gaming outlet.

For everybody’s information, the Pagcor and the PCSO have both denied that they ever granted permits or franchise for the MVGC to put up frontons or betting stations for jai-alai operations.

Even the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), which initially gave MVGC a license agreement to “operate (on-line gaming) only within the CEZA and Freeport Zone in Cagayan,” had issued a cease and desist order to the MVGC.

Jose Mari Ponce, CEZA administrator, said the agency did not issue license to MVGC to operate STL, adding that his agency has no authority to issue legislative franchise for MVGC. The Office of Government Corporate Counsel, he said, has issued an opinion that CEZA can not grant licenses to operate jai-alai fronts since this franchise had been given to the Philippine Jai-Alai and Amusement Corporation under Presidential Decree 810.

Since February this year, Ponce said MVGC had been running its virtual game even without jai-alai activity as basis for its winning combinations, but (only on) an on-line numbers game supposedly generated by a computer program.

He also expressed alarm why MVGC is using third parties (local jueteng bet cobradors) as bet collectors which is not indicated in its license granted by CEZA.

Despite the recall of the CEZA-granted license, the MVGC thru Ang, who claims to be a mere consultant of the Spanish-owned firm, has reportedly continued to establish/install his on-line illegal gambling operations in many parts of the country, and they include Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Cavite, Bulacan, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, Camarines Sur, Albay, Quezon, Laguna and Negros Occidental.

The MVGC officials, reports said, are going around the country, dropping the names of and boasting that they the have the “blessings” of President Nonoy Aquino, his uncle former Tarlac Rep. Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, and convincing governors, mayors, provincial board members and town councilors to come up with resolutions approving MVGC operations in their areas allegedly in exchange for millions of pesos in monthly payola.

Some Bishops and local leaders like in Cagayan and Negros Occidental have expressed wonderment why some Mayors and local councils in their provinces have approved and passed resolutions for MVGC to operate there despite knowing it is illegal.

Three weeks ago, reports said Atong Ang paid a surprise visit to retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archibishop Oscar Cruz, head of the Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng, apparently to “throw his support behind Cruz’ anti-jueteng campaign.”

But Ang failed to put one over Cruz, who said: “Ang’s distaste of jueteng was intended to promote jail-alai, his new gambling of choice. His motive was clear. He wanted his jai-alai business to flourish.”

Very recently, Ang also tried to make a courtesy call to one of President Aquino’s close friend who is a security official to “promote” his business but his effort was immediately turned down.

Bishop Cruz said Ang should just reveal everything he knew about jueteng. He even volunteered to arrange Ang’s appearance in the upcoming Senate blue ribbon committee hearings on the illegal numbers game.

If one would read between the lines on what Bishop Cruz has revealed on Ang’s visit to him, it would seem that the latter, in coordination with some disgruntled former players in the jueteng industry, are “fanning” the anti-jueteng issue in the media, to divert public’s attention to MVGC’s multi-million-peso racket nationwide.


For feedback and comments, please email me at Romie A. Evangelista


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