MANILA, Philippines - Former Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio on Wednesday said the police, in cahoots with local government officials, prevented him from stopping jueteng operations in the “Vatican of jueteng in the Philippines.”
In his testimony before the Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing on Wednesday, Panlilio said that while he was able to curb corruption and complete pending infrastructure projects in the province, “the only campaign promise I was not able to fulfill was stoppage of the operations of jueteng in the province.”
He said that as soon as he assumed as governor in 2007, he convened a multi-sectoral meeting, which ended with the formation of an anti-jueteng coalition.
He said the coalition offered small businesses and livelihood projects to poor communities as an intensive information drive against the illegal numbers game was conducted.
Panlilio said the drive against jueteng had a promising start, but it eventually failed because police and local government officials did not cooperate.
In several meetings held by the coalition, police chiefs and local government officials would always assure that the province is jueteng-free, but this was "contrary to the assessment of the anti-jueteng coalition."
He said San Fernando Archbishop Paciano Aniceto has also confirmed that jueteng "strongly thrives in Pampanga."
Panlilio accused the Philippine National Police (PNP) leadership and the government then headed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, of protecting jueteng operations in Pampanga.
Request for police chief turned down
In his 3 years as governor of Pampanga, Panlilio said the PNP refused his request for a provincial police director of his choice.
He said the request was turned down by 3 PNP chiefs including Oscar Calderon, Avelino Razon, and recently retired Jesus Verzosa, who has also been tagged as a recipient of jueteng money.
Panlilio added that he elevated the request to then Interior Secretary Ronaldo "Ronnie" Puno and to the Office of the President, but it was totally snubbed.
"In 3 years, none of my 19 letters to 3 PNP chiefs, Oscar Calderon, Avelino Razon, and Jesus Verzosa, were answered or acted upon. The matter was raised to DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno and to the Office of the President, but nothing happened," the former governor told senators.
STL is jueteng
Panlilio, meanwhile, hinted that the powerful person who may be behind the jueteng operation in Pampanga is Bong Pineda, husband of incumbent Gov. Lilia Pineda.
The incumbent governor has also been tagged by retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz as an operator of jueteng.
Panlilio said jueteng operations in the province are running under the guise of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office's (PCSO) Small-Town Lottery (STL).
He said STL workers in the province are actually "cabos" and "kubradores" (bet collectors) of jueteng. He said the bet collectors use STL bet papers in collecting bets for jueteng.