By PNA and U.S. News Agency / Asian
At least 23 of 48 towns and cities in Pangasinan have so far given the nod to the operation of jail-alai in their respective jurisdictions.
Senior Superintendent Rosueto Ricaforte, police provincial director, said that based on their monitoring as of April 11, business permits for the operation of on-line betting stations were issued by these 23 towns and cities.
These betting stations were all set up by Meridien Gaming Vista Corporation, a company believed to be owned by Charlie Atong Ang, a former crony of deposed President Joseph Estrada.
Ricaforte told newsmen that policemen raided some of these betting stations about three weeks ago but were presented with business permits validly issued by town and city mayors, including a copy of an injunction order issued by the court in connection with a civil case enjoining the defendant Games and Amusement Board (GAB) and the Philippine National Police from stopping the gaming operations of the plaintiff (Meridien).
The order dated March 23, 2011 was issued by Judge Conrado Manauls of Branch 08 of the Regional Trial Court, Second Judicial Region in Aparri, Cagayan.
Meridien presently operates jai-alai at the Cagayan Export Processing Zone (CESA).
Ricaforte said the injunction order of the court at first had a time frame of “non-extendible period of 17 days” but the time frame has already been removed which means that the injunction shall take effect till the issue is resolved.
“We cannot do anything if they are legal,” said Ricaforte, adding that what the police are only stopping are those that are operating illegally.
However, he refused to comment on speculations coming from various sectors in Pangasinan that jai-alai was a mere cover of jueteng which already grounded to a halt in the province ever since this was exposed in a senate investigation last year by retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz.
It was learned that the former collectors of jueteng that were previously displaced were taken back as collectors of jai alai bets. The only difference is the jai-alai collectors now wear uniform whereas jueteng collectors did not.
Asked if the injunction is limited to Cagayan province under the jurisdiction of the court which issued this, Ricaforte believes the order is in effect throughout the Philippines.
Prior to this, Governor Amado Espino Jr. virtually washed his hands on the issue of the growing operation of jai-alai in Pangasinan, saying it was the mayors, not him, who issued the business permits for the betting stations.
On the other hand, there is a pending resolution in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan proposed by Board Member Alfonso Bince Jr. seeking to stop operations of jai alai in the province.