'Jueteng' war looms in Lipa

By Arnell Ozaeta, ABS-CBN News Southern Tagalog

Posted at Jan 19 2013 02:45 PM | Updated as of Jan 20 2013 12:45 AM

BATANGAS – Before the Atimonan, Quezon and San Juan, Batangas shooting incidents happened, killings linked to “jueteng” in Lipa City had been prevalent.

Last September 25, 2012, Emmanuel Mendoza, 49, and Lewillyndo Vergara, 44, were shot by riding-in-tandem gunmen along H. LaTorre St., Barangay 10, Lipa City at around 9 p.m.

Both were residents of San Juan, Batangas and employees of BETS, the small town lottery (STL) franchisee of Batangas.

Mendoza died on the spot while Vergara was rushed to San Antonio Medical Center for treatment.

The two had just come from the STL local betting station and were walking home when they were fired upon by still unidentified gunmen.

The STL Lipa franchise manager who requested anonymity said the shooting could be work-related as he himself received death threats through text messages.

“Hindi pa namin ma-determine kung mga bookies nga ang may kagagawan sa pamamaril ng aking mga tauhan, pero mula nang mangyari yon, sunud-sunod na ang mga death threats sa akin,” the manager said.

The manager said he reported to Lipa police station upon receiving a text message from cellphone number 09279560585 saying: “INGAT KA NLANG LOKAL TAGILID TAYO M DTO LIPA,” which was followed by: “MATAPANG K DBA! NGAYON MWWLA TAPANG MO, (his name) KATAPUSAN MO N! LHT NG PANA2KIT AT PAGPA2HIRAP O BA2LIK SAU! UMPISA N NG KARMA MO!”

The manager again reported to Lipa station last January 7 after noticing a red Honda City with three unidentified male occupants suspiciously parked in front of the STL station. Later that day, same vehicle was seen parked a few meters away from the manager’s house.

“Nung sisitahin sana ng mga tauhan ko, bigla nalang sumibad ang sasakyan, posibleng may kinalaman ito sa shooting incident sa mga tauhan ko,” he said.

The Manager said at least six groups were operating as bookies in Lipa City.

STL as front

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima on Monday confirmed that jueteng operators are using the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO)-run Small Town Lottery as a shield in their illegal operations.

Purisima said bookies apply the “parallel illegal numbers game” operating similar to jueteng using STL as cover wherein some authorized STL bet collectors are engaged in dual collection of bets.

The source likewise confirmed that bets collected by collectors are remitted to the PCSO and the other to the supposed financier of the said illegal numbers game or bookies.

“This illegal numbers game continue to flourish since the odds of winning in bookies is higher because the winning combination is drawn from 1-37 which is identical to jueteng while STL winning combination is drawn from 1-40,” he explained.

Likewise, the manager said that they have discovered that bets in bookies operation yield higher winnings as compared to STL. In bookies: a P1 bet wins P900 while in STL, a P1 bet wins P800. Further, a “kubrador” earns a 20 to 25% commission from his total remittances while in STL, a kubrador only earns 10%, he said.

The manager, however, explained the downside of the bookies operation saying, “Hindi ka naman nakakasiguro kung mababayaran ang mananaya kung tumama ka sa mga bookies kasi usually nawawala ang mga ‘yan kapag natamaan ng malaki.”

He cited one instance when one of the bettors won P12 million from bookies but the operators suddenly disappeared.

“Ang nangyayari kami ang nagbabayad sa nanalo kasi kubrador din namin ang kumuha ng taya pero hindi ipinasok sa amin kundi sa illegal bookies,” he said.

This prompted the war between the legal STL operators and the bookies when the PCSO started its crackdown against them.

“Akala siguro ng mga bookies ay ako ang nagpapahuli sa kanila kaya ako ang napag-iinitan samantalang mandate ng PCSO at ng PNP na manghuli ng mga ilegal gambling,” the manager explained.

Illegal bookies

Based on Lipa PNP operation, from January to December 2012, they have conducted 131 operations against illegal bookies, arresting at least 252 bet collectors. This year, police had already arrested 13 bet collectors from January 1 to 16.

Asked if the bookies operating in Lipa have any affiliation to Siman’s group, the manager said, “There’s none as far as know, ang alam ko puro Batangueno ang nag-ooperate ng bookies dito sa Lipa.” He, however, refused to identify them for security reasons.

The manager said they conduct three draws a day at 11 a.m., 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. with bet collections ranging from P1.3 million to P1.7 million.

“With the bookies operation, they could eat up from P200,000 up to P400,000 bets from us a day without paying any taxes from the local or the national government,” he said.

The manager said his company had already provided him with security and extra vehicle for his protection. He also applied for Comelec gun ban exemption for his firearm.

Lipa Mayor Maynard Sabili, for his part, expressed his disapproval on illegal gambling and likewise ordered the crackdown of the illegal bookies operating in the city.