MANILA – A police officer who allegedly used P500,000 worth of buy-bust money for online sabong has been arrested, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Saturday.
The officer, part of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Group, is currently detained at the Manila Police District and facing charges related to illegal gambling and estafa, said PNP spokesperson Police Col. Jean Fajardo.
Fajardo said the officer has a rank of police lieutenant.
"Maliban pa dito sa criminal case niya for illegal gambling, may kakaharapin pa siyang isang kaso na admin na malversation of government funds after 'yung buy-bust money supposedly na sa kanyang pag-iingat ... ay nadispalko din niya," Fajardo said in an interview on Teleradyo.
"Sa kasamaang palad, dahil sa kanyang pagkakalulong sa sabong ay pati itong pera na sa kanyang pag-iingat ay nadispalko niya at hindi niya ma-account."
The money, she said, was meant for police anti-illegal drugs operations.
"Noong ibinigay sa kanyang pera na ito, hinahanap sa kanya ng commanding officer para gamitin sa planong buy-bust operation ay hindi na niya mai-account," the police spokesperson said.
"Kaya siya nasampahan ng kasong estafa dahil ibinenta pa niya itong hiniram niyang sasakyan sa pagtakas at mismong nahuli siya sa betting station kung saan siya hino-hold ng management doon dahil siya ay may utang din."
This development came amid rising cases of police personnel reportedly being addicted to e-sabong, with one officer even robbing a gasoline station in Laguna in February.
Police chief Gen. General Dionardo Carlos last month warned PNP personnel from being involved in online sabong amid the disappearances of sabungeros.
Carlos vowed to arrest any cops engaged "in this illegal activity."
“This doesn’t give a good impression in their conduct as law enforcers. The bottom line is, we discourage our personnel from engaging in gambling activities as this does not augur well with their professional and personal values,” he said in a statement.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier rejected calls to suspend online sabong operations in the country because it supposedly bring government billions in revenue.
Duterte this week also said he would not be surprised if some police officers were involved in the disappearance of several missing sabungeros.
Over 30 sabungeros are still missing, according to authorities.