ILLEGAL gambling operations persist in six out of eight regions in Luzon, including Metro Manila, records of the Philippine National Police (PNP) show.
PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac made the statement weeks after police chief Gen. Archie Gamboa ordered a renewed campaign against all forms of gambling throughout the country.
“About two or three weeks ago, the NCRPO (National Capital Region Command) started to intensify our campaign against illegal gambling. In fact, some police chiefs in Metro Manila were relieved for lack of action,” Banac said.
He said the focus of the operation is against video karera which has been victimizing students. “This (video karera) causes a big effect on the morality of our youth,” he added.
Apart from Metro Manila, Banac named Regions 1 (Ilocos), 2 (Cagayan Valley), 3 (Central Luzon), 4-A (Calabarzon) and Bicol where illegal gambling operations continue.
“These are the areas we are giving focus (in our campaign). Mostly, it’s here in Luzon,” Banac said, but quickly added: “There are also gambling in Region 6 (Western Visayas) and Region 7 (Central Visayas). In the Mindanao area, it’s not that much of a problem for us.”
On February 19, Gamboa vowed to relieve regional police directors who fail to take action against illegal gambling operations. He gave the regional directors a list of alleged illegal gambling lords and syndicates in their areas.
At the same time, Banac appealed lawmakers to consider giving more assistance to the poor to discourage them from engaging in illegal gambling, especially during the wakes of family members to raise funds for burial expenditures.
“Naiintidihan natin ang kalagayan ng ating mga (kababayan) lalo na pag may namatayan. Ito na nga lang ang pinagkukunan nila ng panggastos. (We understand the situation of our (fellowmen), especially those who lost family members. This is where they get their expenses),” he said.
However, Banac said the PNP has no other recourse at present but to stop such gambling in wakes because they are illegal under the law.
“Kapag sinabing bawal, talagang bawal. Wala sa kakayanan o sa authority ng PNP to interpret kung ano ‘yung sinasabi ng batas. Ang PNP ay taga-implement . (If it’s illegal, it’s really illegal. It’s not within the capacity or authority of the PNP to interpret the law. The PNP just implements the law),” he added.
“Kaya tayo rin ay of course nananawagan sa ating mga officials, mga mambabatas lalo na, na maaring tingnan ito, ‘yung moral and social and economic factors na kailangan i-consider para na rin sa ating mga mamamayan na nangangailan din talaga. Nakita natin na kapag may patay ay ito lang talaga ang pinagkukunan ng kanilang panggastos, ‘yung sugal dun sa lamay (We appeal to our officials, to the lawmakers especially, to look into the moral, social, and economic factors that should be considered for our fellowmen who are really in need. We’ve been seeing that it is through gambling during wakes where they get their expenses),” he also said.
On whether the PNP wants to allow gambling specifically during wakes, Banac said: “We may need more provisions for burial and financial assistance so that poor and bereaved families need not resort to illegal gambling during wake to raise much needed funds.”
“Tayo man ay nahahabag din ano. Kaya lang bilang law enforcement agency nga ay hindi kami ang mag-i-interpret, kelangan ipapatupad namin talaga, ‘yun ang pinag-u-utos sa PNP (We commiserate with them. But as law enforcers, we do not interpret, we have to enforce it. That is the order to the PNP,” Banac said, referring to the law against gambling.
Banac said ending all forms of illegal gambling requires a whole of nation approach, including the provision of an alternative livelihood program for those who will be affected.
Citing experiences, he said arrested gambling personnel return to gambling after posting bail due to the lack of alternative jobs.