Five incumbent governors, a vice governor and a mayor have made it to the “Archbishop’s List” as among the “jueteng” operators who allegedly pay billions of pesos every month to their government protectors.
All of those officials are from Luzon, according to the list which Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz turned over to a congressional committee.
The list, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer, alleges that a top official of the Philippine National Police gets as much as P19.6 million a month in payoffs from jueteng lords.
The alleged payoffs to the PNP official come every 15th and 30th of the month — or as regularly, it appears, as a government employee’s paycheck.
Cruz, who turned over the list to the House committee on public order and security on Tuesday, urged the authorities yesterday to validate its contents so the guilty could be punished.
“We have no intelligence funds, we have only ‘Hail Marys,'” Cruz said, explaining why he and his supporters could not do the verification job.
Referring to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s son, Pampanga Representative Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo’s statements during the committee hearing questioning his findings, Cruz told reporters: “To ask for scientific evidence in this regard is a little out of tune. I don’t think that’s relevant.”
Allegations of links to jueteng lords led to President Joseph Estrada’s impeachment and eventual removal from office. Estrada has denied receiving jueteng payoffs.
P13 billion a year
Cruz told the House committee that the total jueteng payoffs to all officials, from the national level down to the barangays (villages), reached P13 billion a year.
“We found out that the take in jueteng operations was much, much bigger than during the previous administration, with the minimum amount of P13 billion,” Cruz said.
The Inquirer had obtained a reproduction of the list from a source separate from that of the outspoken bishop.
Cruz said that his and the Inquirer’s list “fit” in terms of contents and “entries.”
Earlier, a ranking PNP official told the Inquirer that three close relatives of a top government official had been raking in millions of pesos in jueteng payola every month. He identified them by their code names M1, M2 and JS7.
Neither copy named any relative of the President as being allegedly involved in the illegal numbers game, as had been speculated in some sectors of media.
The list instead identified as among the alleged jueteng operators a man whose name often turned up whenever the issue of illegal gaming came up.
The man had been summoned to a similar congressional hearing on jueteng before but nothing conclusive had come out of that hearing.
He is allegedly the point man in the provinces of Pangasinan, Isabela, Bataan, Mindoro, Albay, and parts of Pampanga, Ms Arroyo’s home province.
Like Cruz’s list, the Inquirer copy mentioned 24 provinces located in six regions, including Metro Manila, where the 14 or 15 operators allegedly collected jueteng money.
Central Luzon appeared to be the most lucrative area for the officer, producing a combined amount of P6.5 million monthly, according to the list.
The official’s purported collection from Region 1 (Ilocos) allegedly stood at least P4.7 million. He also allegedly got P3.2 million from Southern Tagalog and P2.2 million from the Bicol region.
Based on the list, the least fertile ground for payoffs seemed to be Metro Manila and Rizal province, producing only P200,000 monthly for the officer.
He allegedly received all collections from the 24 provinces through a certain Boy Tangkad and a police senior superintendent.
The senior superintendent is allegedly in charge of the operations of a key unit in Camp Crame, the PNP’s general headquarters in Quezon City.
Info from insiders
“This unit traditionally manages jueteng collections for the [high PNP official],” the source said.
Cruz could not tell how some of the jueteng collections allegedly ended up in the pockets of some ranking government officials.
“We’re not jueteng lords and beneficiaries,” Cruz said. “Our sources are from inside and outside of the government. We hold [their information] to be true because we can compare notes and many sources are saying one and the same thing.”
PNP spokesperson Senior Superintendent Leopoldo Bataoil vigorously denied allegations that police officials had received jueteng payoffs.
“We are categorically denying that accusation,” Bataoil said on the phone. “But if there is information of a police officer receiving [jueteng payola], we will investigate that and we will charge him.”
“With or without that list, however, the PNP will continue its relentless campaign against jueteng,” he said.
PNP meeting with Cruz
Bataoil also said the PNP was seeking a meeting with Cruz and other Catholic bishops and religious leaders who were reportedly disgruntled at the way Ms Arroyo was running the country or the way the government’s campaign against jueteng was going.
Besides Cruz, Bataoil mentioned the name of Bishop Antonio Tobias as among those that PNP chief Director General Arturo Lomibao wanted to meet with.
He said Lomibao would also meet with leaders of the religious groups Iglesia Ni Cristo and El Shaddai.
‘Rumors and hearsay’
In an interview on RMN-dzXL radio, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said reports linking Representative Arroyo to the illegal numbers game were “rumors [and] hearsay” and that there was no evidence to back up the allegations.
Asked whether the President was aware of the rumors, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said: “We never talked about it with the President. But I can be very sure the President knows he has nothing to do with such illegal activity.”
Parańaque Representative Roilo Golez said Congress would use the Cruz list to “pressure” the PNP to crack down on jueteng protectors.
“We will take note of the list as a guide in pressuring the PNP to implement the anti-jueteng law in the areas that were identified,” Golez said in an interview.
List to be confidential
“This is for them to build up cases against the local officials because if they tolerate jueteng or do not take action against it, these local officials are liable and can be penalized with perpetual disqualification from public office,” Golez added.
Golez said that the House committee on public order and security would not release the list to the PNP but would point out jueteng-infested areas.
Persons mentioned on Cruz’s list will not be summoned by the committee since this would be tantamount to releasing their names to the public, he said.