CDIG-7 crackdown on illegal gambling, for real?

By: Malou Guanzon Apalisok August 11,2019 - 06:51 AM

Thinking that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s order to shut down all PCSO gaming operations was meant to sweep off all forms of legal and illegal gambling throughout the country, a priest told mass goers in his homily during last Sunday’s mass (August 04, 2019) that he was extremely pleased by the presidential move. However, he stopped short on commenting how he felt when PRRD revoked his own order a couple of days later.

The priest’s discourse on the Gospel of St. Luke (12:13 -21) about a rich man who thought of building a huge barn in which to keep all his bountiful produce is a warning on greed, the insidious vice that springs from the human urge to acquire wealth and more wealth for gratification. It can be dangerous because man can never be satiated by material goods, only God can.

The priest then asked mass goers in the San Pedro Calungsod chapel in the South Road Properties how many bet on the lotto. I didn’t see many hands in response but the priest shared an anecdote to illustrate how lotto, suertres, etc., have become so pervasive that one can see 10 lotto outlets along a one-kilometer stretch of road. This is the sight that greets him when traveling to Cebu’s south: lotto outlets side by side or opposite each other, literally, at every turn. The priestly narrative implied an anxiety over how people have become inveterate bettors in a game where the chances of winning is 1 in 14 million.

While nothing new, the anecdote was still startling and resonates with the headline grabbing arrest and detention of more than 300 cockfighting bettors in Mandaue City last August 5.

Elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG-7) swooped down on the D and C Coliseum, a cockpit owned by the family of Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes.

The bettors were held for five days and were released only last Friday after the judge acted on the cases filed by CIDG 7. The jail sentence of 3 days was deemed served while the penalty of P1,500 each was waived, supposedly because those charged for violation of RA 449 were detained for five days or two days more than the prison sentence.

The controversy continues to be a news staple because the cockpit is co-owned and managed by the family of Mayor Cortes and the issuance of the permit allowing D and C owners to hold cockfights beyond the limits expressed by the national law is rather fresh, in July 2019, perhaps days or a couple of weeks after he assumed office. The effectivity of the special permit was supposedly for the whole month of August 2019.

In response, the office of the mayor and the local city council will jointly revisit the local ordinance that granted special permits to D and C including another cockpit, Gallera de Mandaue. The local government acted swiftly to minimize the adverse publicity by suspending the special permit given to Gallera de Mandaue, said to be owned by party-list Congressman Sonny Lagon.

The case has surfaced disturbing information that cockfights are held daily in Mandaue courtesy of two cockpits with strong political connection. As a layman with pedestrian knowledge of the law, I say this recent implementation of the local ordinance overthrows the national law.

In any case, people are wondering why CIDG, after hauling more than 300 bettors including D and C employees to jail and slapping them with violation of RA 449, has yet to file cases on cockpit owners. In fact, as of Friday last week cockpit employees are still in jail after pleading not guilty to the charge of illegal gambling. Their not guilty plea will enable police to test Section 7 of RA 449. This particular section refers to the licensing of gaffers, referees or bet takers and promoters. Are they licensed and therefore authorized as cockfighting officials?

I hope Police Regional Office Chief Debold Sinas and CIDG-7 under him realize they put PNP in crosshairs for picking only on bettors and cockpit employees. Doubters and critics out there are asking, is the police waiting for cockpit owners to come across?

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