MANILA, Philippines - Alleged jueteng lord Charlie "Atong" Ang on Thursday denied any involvement in the illegal numbers game, jueteng, claiming that he is strictly into legal gambling like cockfighting and jai alai.
"Simula umpisa, never ako na-involve sa illegal gambling. Wala akong record na nagpatakbo ako ng illegal gambling kahit kelan," Ang said in a radio dzMM.
"Yan ang kinaiinisan ko sa lahat, yang jueteng na 'yan."
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago on Wednesday named Ang as one of the top jueteng operators in Regions 1 to 5 alongside Danny Soriano, Bong Pineda, Aging Lisan, and Tony Santos.
Other alleged jueteng operators identified by Santiago are Chavit Singson, Bonito Singson, M. Urduña, Boy Bata, Danny Soriano, Col. Delos Santos, Ronald Lim, Togo, Elmer Nepomuceno, Don Ramon, Boyet Aransa, and Haruta.
Before Santiago's exposé, retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz revealed before a Senate inquiry that Ang is a "good source of information" about jueteng and jai alai.
Ang said he met Cruz about a month ago after hearing news that he was being linked to jueteng rackets. He told the archbishop that he helps operate jai alai games in Cagayan.
"Hindi ako nagju-jueteng eh. Never ako nainvolve sa ganyan. 150% sa pagkatao ko against sa illegal gambling," he reiterated.
"Dapat dyan, imbestigahan ng pulis, hulihin, saka nila i-dyaryo kapag may ebidensya na," he said.
Currently, Ang said he is actively involved in Jai Alai as he works as a consultant for gaming company Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation in the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Free Port.
Ang also clarified that the Virtual 2 is a form of jai alai, not jueteng as alleged by Sen. Santiago.
According to Ang, the Philippine Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) are not allowed to operate jai alai games in the Philippines. But the Ceza charter allows for jai alai within the area.
Further, Ang said jai alai can only have off-site betting stations if the company can secure permits from the local chief executive.
Ang also added that officials should refrain from including politics in gaming operations because this will scare off interested investors.
Early this year, Meridien's operations in Ceza was closed due to resistance from Church groups and community leaders. However, the group won the case and were allowed to operate within Ceza. - With radio dzMM