MANILA, Philippines – There are no more jueteng operations in Pangasinan amid a recent exposé linking the province's governor to the illegal numbers game, a police official said on Monday.
Senior Superintendent Mariano Luis Verzosa Jr., Pangasinan Police OIC director, said jueteng operations in his jurisdiction have been eradicated since he took office about 6 months ago.
"Alam ninyo, since time immemorial nandyan ang jueteng sa Pangasinan…Come and go lang ang jueteng sa province na 'yan," Verzosa told dzMM.
"Mula noong umupo ako, medyo nabawasan na ang jueteng. Ngayon, idini-declare ko na juteng-free na po ang Pangasinan," he added.
Verzosa attributed the supposed elimination of jueteng operations to the arrival of Jai Alai in the province.
"Nung pumasok yang Jai Alai na iyan, to be specific mga March 2011, unti-unti nang nawawala ang jueteng, napalitan po ng jai alai…Hanggang sa ngayon, almost more than 90% na ang mga bayan ang nagbigay ng permit sa Jai Alai," Verzosa said.
Verzosa issued this statement following last Friday's revelation of Bugallon Mayor Rodrigo Orduña that Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino Jr. earned nearly P1 billion in jueteng payola in the past 9 year.
Orduña filed a plunder case against Espino before the Ombudsman, and presented as evidence his and Barangay Chairman Fernando Alimagno's sworn statements detailing their role and association with Espino in allegedly running jueteng in Pangasinan.
In his sworn statement, Orduña claimed that he personally handed to Espino some P2.5 million every week for several years since Espino became Pangasinan governor.
He said Espino used to receive a smaller amount of P750,000 weekly when he was still only a congressman in the province.
Espino, for his part, denied the allegations and said they were only politically motivated.