Police look into archbishop’s list

THE Philippine National Police (PNP) is now validating the list of alleged government and police personalities that are reportedly receiving “jueteng” payoffs from illegal gambling operators in the country.

PNP chief Director General Raul Bacalzo said he has tasked the PNP Directorate for Intelligence (DI) to immediately validate the list submitted by retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz for the purpose of case buildup.

“I have ordered the DI to validate the said information and start a case buildup. We will investigate and bring the violators to the court in accordance to the law,” Bacalzo told reporters in Camp Crame.

The PNP chief added: “We call on anyone who has information on the operation of illegal gambling to come forward and help us put a stop to these illegal activities.”

Included in the list were Interior Undersecretary Rico E. Puno and former PNP chief Jesus Verzosa, who reportedly received between P2 million and P5 million from jueteng operators.

Cruz, a known anti-gambling crusader during the Arroyo administration, submitted a list of jueteng operators and protectors during a Senate committee hearing on illegal gambling last Tuesday.

Verzosa and Puno immediately denied the allegations.  The ex-PNP chief’s camp even dared the Catholic bishop to present concrete evidence.

Puno, on the other hand, offered to resign, only to make a turn-around by saying that it is up to President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to decide if he should leave government service.

Bacalzo expressed appreciation for the privilege speech of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago last Wednesday where the veteran legislator detailed the extent of corruption involving illegal gambling.

“We are appreciative of her concern and the effort to bring the information to light… We have the same objective—to rid our country of jueteng and all other forms of illegal gambling,” he said.

But the PNP chief acknowledged that law enforcement operations will not suffice in putting a stop to illegal gambling operations, particularly jueteng, saying that a much better approach is needed.

”We have said, time and again, that jueteng is a multi-dimensional problem that needs the cooperation of all sectors. Our stand on how to address the problem is bolstered by such a pervasive description,” Bacalzo said.  Anthony Vargas

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