'Rubbish,' says PNP chief Raul Bacalzo
MANILA, Philippines - A day after being installed as Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Director-General Raul Bacalzo is already being linked to illegal gambling by a former Senate witness who testified on the jueteng controversy 5 years ago.
In an interview on ANC’s Headstart, former jueteng whistleblower Sandra Cam claimed that Bacalzo was one of the police officials identified as a jueteng coddler during a Senate inquiry on the illegal numbers game in 2005.
Bacalzo has denied the charge and said he does not know Cam.
According to Cam, fellow whistleblower Boy Mayor identified Bacalzo as one of the high-profile officials who benefited from jueteng during the Arroyo administration. She said a certain Boy Tangkad delivered the jueteng payola to Bacalzo.
"I challenge the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the PNP. During the Senate exposé, General Bacalzo was identified as someone who was on the take. I don't know what's happening with our President. He said he's all-out against jueteng and then he appoints a PNP chief who is on the take," she told ANC.
Cam said Boy Tangkad was killed in Quezon City last year while Boy Mayor was shot dead last February.
Cam was one of the key witnesses who implicated Mikey Arroyo, son of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Iggy Arroyo, brother-in-law of the President, as having benefited from jueteng operations. She told the Senate she personally delivered jueteng payola to the offices of the Arroyos.
Cam and Richard Garcia are the only witnesses who testified in the 2005 inquiry who are still alive. Garcia is still under the government witness protection program, she added.
Cam said she was surprised that President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III appointed Bacalzo as PNP chief despite his alleged links to jueteng operations.
She said the President should have asked around Camp Crame or even conducted his own investigation on Bacalzo’s background before appointing him police chief. She noted that for government to win the fight against jueteng, the President must appoint upright men as leaders of the police force.
"Mr. President, we fought against the Arroyo administration for 5 years. You said that your administration will go the straight path but your choice of PNP chief already shows that your young government is being led on the wrong path," she said.
White paper links Bacalzo to illegal drugs
Bacalzo, meanwhile, denied Cam's claims linking him to jueteng payola.
During the retirement ceremonies for his predecessor on Wednesday, the new PNP chief said he does not know Cam. He added that he is ready to be investigated in a proper forum.
"I do not know Sandra Cam. I have not met her. I just do not know kung ano yung sinasabi niya. I am willing to be investigated kung talagang may details yun. If there is evidence...I will answer in the proper forum," he said.
President Aquino on Tuesday dismissed as "manufactured" allegations that the PNP chief is a protector of illegal drug syndicates. A white paper allegedly being circulated by some junior officers said Bacalzo also failed to stop murders of journalists when he was head of PNP's Task Force Usig.
Bacalzo said it is unlikely that he is a coddler of drug syndicates since he never headed police operations against illegal drugs. "That's rubbish and the letter does not deserve the dignity of any response," he said.
He added that the fight against illegal gambling will only succeed through stronger partnerships with various stakeholders including local officials, the religious sector and the media.
4 more witnesses
Cam, meanwhile, revealed that retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz is preparing 4 witnesses who are ready to testify that they delivered jueteng payola to high-ranking officials and top-brass generals.
She said the 4 were eager to come out but she advised them to reconsider until Congress passes new legislation that protects whistleblowers.
"Baka pagpyestahan lang kayo sa Senado, Kongreso. Afterwards ano mangyari sa inyo? Baka matulad din kayo sa amin. Pagkatapos pagpyestahan, wala sa amin nag-intindi,” she said.
“Sa nangyari sa amin, I won’t [recommend coming out]. Sabi ko sa kanila, you have to think a thousand times first,” she added.
Cam said becoming a whistleblower would mean putting one's life in danger for very little gain. She said that after the 2005 Senate hearings on the jueteng scandal, no criminal or civil case was filed against the Arroyos.
She said her own security detail was pulled out several times, exposing her to danger.
Cam said all whistleblowers should be placed under the witness protection program. She said the state should provide food for the witnesses and pay for their expenses, especially for the children's needs. She added the government should assist the family in seeking overseas employment for safety reasons.
“Kung may chance na makaalis ang pamilya to go abroad, bakit hindi? Mas maganda yun kasi hindi na magsu-suffer ang mga bata,” she said.
Cam said former whistleblowers like Dante Madriaga of the NBN-ZTE deal, Jose Barredo of the fertilizer scam, and Vidal Doble of the "Hello, Garci" controversy have been struggling to provide for their families after testifying in congressional inquiries.
"Madriaga has 7 kids. His house in BF Homes was foreclosed and he is now staying with the Daughters of Charity. Last week, one of his kids was diagnosed with dengue and he had to beg money from one senator to another to get the P15,000 needed for the hospital. We had to look for people who would give him money," she said.
Cam said Jose Barredo Jr., a witness in the Senate inquiry on the P728 million fertilizer fund scam, had to sell his house and car due to lack of funds.
Another "Hello Garci" witness, Capt. Marlon Mendoza, had to change his name and his appearance to be able to eke out a living.
Cam said she also had to go overseas for awhile to earn money for her family.
Cam said the government should strengthen its witness protection program so that more jueteng whistleblowers will surface. She also warned against “hired witnesses” like Richard Garcia, who recanted his testimony against the Arroyos.
She also advised the new jueteng witnesses to let retired Archbishop Cruz do the talking in the exposé. "Cruz has the Church behind him. If they kill the archbishop, it will be the Catholic Church who will run after them," she said. -- By Leilani Chavez, abs-cbnNEWS.com
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