FIRST THE GOOD NEWS, THEN THE BAD NEWS. – The quiet illegal gambling operation in Pangasinan is facing another turbulent time, albeit temporarily.
Gambling operators used to be raking in money for many years now are undisturbed.
There is no Archbishop Oscar Cruz to lead a crusade against them.
No survey on which towns/cities have illegal jueteng operation. No shame campaign on mayors and other provincial officials, up to the governor and the police, for reportedly tolerating such illegal activity in exchange for something else.
When news broke out that National Bureau of Investigation operatives swooped down on a house in Urbiztondo, Pangasinan used for alleged jai-alai operations, many were surprised, including this corner.
“True ba yun? Di ba malakas si Atong Ang?, “ I asked an NBI officer.
Of course, it is public knowledge that jai-alai is Atong Ang and Atong Ang equals power. Money is power, right?
Laywer Dante Bonoan, the NBI big man in Pangasinan, said 58 persons were arrested for engaging in alleged illegal jai-alai operations in Pangasinan. Their franchise, according to Bonoan, is only within the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority only and bringing it out to Pangasinan is illegal, he said.
Nasa batas daw yun na kung saan lang inisyuhan ng franchise to operate eh hanggang dun lang sya dapat.
On Thursday afternoon, I talked again to Atty. Bonoan to follow up about the complaint field against the arrested persons. The NBI personnel were still at the Prosecutor’s Office in San Carlos City, Bonoan said.
But Friday morning, I received a follow- up news from a media colleague that the charges filed against the 58 persons were dismissed by the Prosecutor.
I hurriedly called up Atty. Bonoan. Phone ringing, no reply. I sent a text message, three hours had passed but no reply. I made another call, still no reply.
Nakapagtataka, kasi agad-agad sumasagot si Atty. Bonoan sa tawag ko dati.
Maybe, he had a migraine attack about what happened.
Naintindihan kita, Sir Dante. Masakit sa bangs talaga yung isyu na yan lalo na the man behind it.
The resolution of the Prosecutor’s Office partly read: “ The search and seizure conducted by the elements of the complainant (referring to the NBI) is in contravention with the writ of preliminary injunction. Further, the MVGC is duly permitted to operate in the municipality of Urbiztondo, Pangasinan based on the documents above enumerate.”
“For lack of probable cause, the above-titled case is hereby DISMISSED,” the resolution added.
Hay naku !—Tita Roces
THE OBSTRUCTIONISTS IN THE CITY – Only those who are rabidly opposed to development and to Mayor Belen Fernandez will dispute the fact that the approval by HLURB of the proposed Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Zoning Ordinance of Dagupan is the greatest feat scored by the present city administration. It’s also Mayor Belen’s greatest gift to the city.
This achievement is something that the previous city administrations starting from Mayor Liberato Reyna’s, Alipio Fernandez’s and Benjamin Lim’s zealously attempted to pursue but failed.
Their failure was the reason the economic development in the city lagged far behind other cities. The past mayors, like Mayor Belen, might have had the foresight but lacked the drive, the determination and persistence to give the city a new CLUP.
The then Mayor Lim almost succeeded but HLURB refused to approve it so it was back to square one for the city government. to the old CLUP approved in 1978 during the administration of then Mayor Cipriano Manaois.
In the case of Mayor Belen, she religiously complied with the requirements that gave no reason for HLURB to reject it.
Approval of the new Dagupan CLUP was not easy as the rabid anti-development forces inside and outside the session hall of the city council used every trick in the book to torpedo its passage.
Recall that when Mayor Belen began the initiative, consulting various sectors on her first term of office, the minority in the SP continuously insisted that not enough consultations were done. Up to the very end, the minority stuck to its position that not every sector was consulted. And few days before finally ending his term, Vice Mayor Brian Lim recommended that the proposed CLUP be endorsed to the incoming city council. Obviously, a dilatory tactic.
This elicited a howl of protest from the majority members of the council who issued their own report signed by more members of the committees.
A final showdown at the session hall resulted in a walk out by three members of the minority including Vice Mayor Brian Lim who tried vainly to terminate the session but this was opposed by a thundering “NO” by Councilor Jose Netu Tamayo.
The rest is now history as the seven members of the majority went on to pass the CLUP and its component Zoning ordinance in the next session of the SP.
For that, Mayor Belen was profuse in thanking Councilors Maybelyn Fernandez, Jose Netu Tamayo, Jeslito Seen, Marvin Fabia and Lino Fernandez as well as ex- Councilors Karlos Reyna and Jesus Canto for holding their ground.
Now that the CLUP and the Zoning ordinance is in place, expect another surprise from Mayor Belen–the realization of her plan to give Dagupan a new government center which is now coming into play with the donation of a lot by her own family, along the Jose de Venecia Expressway, to be the site of the new city hall.
If the political opposition in the city council will still throw a monkey-wrench to the proposed donation, then they deserve to be booted out in the next election for being anti-progress for selfish political reasons. – Leonardo Micua