MANILA, Philippines - Gaming consultant Charlie “Atong” Ang and Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson denied yesterday allegations that they are involved in jueteng.
Calling himself a legal gambling lord, Ang said he is into cockfighting and jai alai, which is legal in his area of operation, the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Free Port.
“Simula umpisa, never ako na-involve sa ganyan; 150 percent sa pagkatao ko against sa illegal gambling (From the start, I was never involved in that; 150 percent of my person is against illegal gambling),” Ang said.
For his part, Singson dared yesterday Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago to show proof that he was the main operator of jueteng in the Ilocos Region.
“Hindi ako jueteng lord, hindi ako operator (I am not a jueteng lord, I am not an operator). She should not release information without evidence,” Singson said.
Ang told radio station dzMM that he has no record of ever operating illegal gambling and that jueteng was his pet peeve.
Ang said he works as a consultant for gaming company Meridien Vista Gaming Corp. in the Cagayan Special Economic Zone (CEZA).
Virtual 2 is a form of jai alai, not jueteng as alleged by Senator Santiago, he added.
Ang said the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) are not allowed to operate jai alai.
However, the CEZA charter allows jai alai within the free port, he added.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Singson said Santiago’s allegations are baseless and selective since she did not include her husband, former interior undersecretary Narciso Santiago Jr.
Singson said Santiago’s baseless exposés are destroying reputations.
He was forced to cut short his trip to South Korea to clear and defend his name, he added.
Singson said jueteng cannot be stopped because betting in the numbers game has become part of Filipino life.
“As they say, if you can’t beat them join them. Let’s just legalize jueteng operations,” he said.
Responding to Singson, Santiago’s office issued the following statement:
“The overwhelming majority of Filipinos know what kind of person Gov. Chavit Singson is and his brand of morality.
“In the same vein, the Filipinos know what kind of person and public servant Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago is. Both their lives are open books. The more than 16 million Filipinos who voted for Sen. Santiago in the recent elections voted for her because they believe that she has the courage and will to fight corruption in government.”
Dy: My brother has no links to jueteng
Meanwhile, Isabela Gov. Faustino Dy III denied yesterday allegations of retired archbishop Oscar Cruz that his brother, Isabela Rep. Napoleon Dy, is involved in jueteng.
“As far as I know, my brother has never been and will never get involved in such activities,” he said.
“People can investigate the situation if there is jueteng in the province. Our family will never countenance any illegal acts by anyone, friend or family member.”
Dy said he and his family are willing to invite Cruz to find out for himself if jueteng exists in Isabela.
Rep. Dy said he was ready to face a Senate inquiry, not to testify against or for other groups or individuals, but to explain his side.
Dy said jueteng has been an age-old problem which the government has been trying to solve.
“Each administration tries to come out with a solution to this problem, but it always comes back,” he said.
“What I know is that in Isabela, there are STL (small-town lottery) operations run by the PCSO and Meridien Vista Gaming Corp., a Spanish firm with franchise from (CEZA).”
Isabela police director Senior Superintendent Jimmy Rivera for his part said jueteng does not exist in the province.
“There is no jueteng in Isabela or else we would have arrested them,” he said.
“Neither are there bookies operations here.”
Governor to Cruz: You’re biased
Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino Jr. accused yesterday Cruz of being biased and malicious in linking him to jueteng.
Speaking on GMA Dagupan Television, Espino said Cruz should consider the serious impact of his allegations against him.
“You are a servant of God and a very influential person,” he said.
“Do your advocacy in a proper way and think about the feelings, honor and dignity of the people you criticize.”
Espino said Cruz should be more cautious, especially that his exposé is not backed up by strong evidence.
“I haven’t slept for two nights already,” he said.
“It (allegation) was so serious. I did everything I can as governor then suddenly, my name was dragged into jueteng.”
Espino said his 88-year-old mother could not eat because she believed the allegations of Cruz that he is involved in jueteng.
“My mom, she believes so much Archbishop Cruz,” he said.
Cruz should have validated first the list of jueteng operators given to him, he added.
His lawyers are studying the possibility of filing a libel case against Cruz, Espino said.— With reports from Charlie Lagasca, Eva Visperas - By Cecille Suerte Felipe (Philstar News Service, www.philstar.com)