“Paik que” aficionados can now cast aside their fear of being arrested after the Provincial Prosecution Office dismissed the complaint filed against 6 bettors and onlookers nabbed at a wake for the dead in Virac, part of the 13 apprehended in a crackdown launched last week by the Catanduanes Police Provincial Office against all forms of illegal gambling.
Joint elements of the Catanduanes Police Intelligence Section led by Senior Inspector Joseph Abel Jarabejo and the Virac police station led by officer-in-charge Senior Inspector Nathaniel Jacob raided a wake for Arturo Tablo Jr. at barangay Constantino in an operation against anti-illegal gambling activities.
At 12:55 A.M. of Feb. 17, the team allegedly caught in the act of playing “paik que” laborer George Alunsabi Talan, 29, of Gogon Sirangan, laborer Froilan Mendoza Bagadiong, 26, of Gogon Sirangan, laborer Erwin Vargas Gianan, 40, of San Juan; municipal employee Ferdinand Uchi Tatad, 54, of San Roque, laborer Charlie Botecario Gianan, 51, of San Roque, and Manuel Gianan Taraya, 50, of Constantino.
The lawmen recovered from the gambling table placed under a tent several bills and coins in different denominations amounting to P1.164.00 as well as gambling paraphernalia consisting of 52 playing cards, two small dice, 32 pieces of paik que tiles and a box.
Taraya, a neighbor of the dead man, claimed he was just a “miron” watching the game while two others also alleged that they were likewise mere witnesses when the police came.
In the inquest resolution prepared by Prosecutor Francisco Samonte Jr. and approved by Officer-In-Charge Carlo Valeza, the case against six respondents were dismissed for lack of probable cause. They were ordered released, with the seized items returned to the owners.
Prosecutor Samonte noted that the law on gambiing recognizes some exceptions, including card or tile games intended for “parlor games or for home entertainment.”
“By tradition, the aforesaid gambling exceptions transpired during wakes for they are intended for past times of those who are attending funeral wakes,” he stated.
Letter of Instruction No. 816, he added, expressly stated that “there is need to exclude certain games like domino, bingo, poker when not played with five cards stud, cuaja, pangguingue and mahjong when exclusively intended for parlor games or for home entertainment.
Although the provision does not expressly mention “paik que”, the word “like” as used therein impliedly includes “paik que”, which falls under the exclusionary law, Samonte said.
“Especially, complainant’s evidence do not show that the wake where the alleged gambling activity transpired was not used to cover or used as an excuse to hold illegal gambling,” he stressed.
According to informed sources, the Virac raid and similar operations in other towns were conducted pursuant to the directive of PNP OIC-provincial director Senior Superintendent Jeffrey Fernandez in compliance with the renewed anti-illegal gambling drive of the national police. Also affected by the crackdown was a “peryahan” operating at a popular mall in the town.
As a result, “paik que” players and operators chose not to risk arrest, with at least two wakes for the dead empty of the usual crowd that flocked to such games at night until dawn or even during the day. A resident of the Palnab area tried to secure permission from Virac acting chief of police Chief Inspector James Ronatay to hold “paik que” games for the last two nights of the wake for his deceased aunt but to no avail.
He claimed that the deceased’s family lacked money to pay for the expenses of the wake and the funeral, which was being partially covered by the “tong” or a small share from the bets or winnings of gamblers. “Usually, we get P600 to P700 per night but this increases to P1,000 or more if the betting is heavy,” he confided.
Presidential Decree 1602 provides imprisonment and fine ranging from P1,000 to P6,000 on any person directly or indirectly taking part in “any illegal or unauthorized activities or games of cockfighting, jueteng, jai alai or horse racing to include bookie operations and game fixing, numbers, bingo and other forms of lotteries; cara y cruz, pompiang and the like; 7-11 and any game using dice; black jack, lucky nine, poker and its derivatives, monte, baccarat, cuajao, pangguingue and other card games; paik que, high and low, mahjong, domino and other games using plastic tiles and the likes; slot machines, roulette, pinball and other mechanical contraptions and devices; dog racing, boat racing, car racing and other forms of races, basketball, boxing, volleyball, bowling, pingpong and other forms of individual or team contests to include game fixing, point shaving and other machinations; banking or percentage game, or any other game scheme, whether upon chance or skill, wherein wagers consisting of money, articles of value or representative of value are at stake or made.”
Stiffer penalties, along with temporary absolute disqualitication, are meted on government officials involved in illegal gambling along with any barangay official who fail to take action on any illegal gambling activity and security guards of establishments where such activities are taking place. Possession of any lottery list, paper of other matter containing letters and numbers for games of chance will also land the violator in jail. On the other hand, the same law provides a reward to informers equivalent to 20 percenty of the cash or articles confiscated in favor of the government.
It is claimed, however, that gambling activities at wakes for the dead intended to raise funds for the bereaved family as a local custom or tradition are exempted from coverage of the decree.
The arrests come as PD Fernandez conducted a command conference at Camp Francisco Camacho to discuss the management of the police operations against illegal gambling, illegal logging and illegal fishing.
In Sabangan, Caramoran last Feb. 12 at 9 P.M., joint elements of the 5th Regional Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit led by SPO3 Ami Montales, Catanduanes Criminal Investigation and Detection Team led by SPO2 Virgilio Cornelio, Caramoran police led by Inspector Christine Llorin, Anti-Cyber Crime Group 5 led by SPO2 Carlo Benavente, and personnel of the Catanduanes Police Public Safety Company stationed at the Tubli detachment served a search warrant against barangay kagawad Isaias delos Reyes and Joan delos Reyes.
The warrant was issued by Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Lelu P. Contreras for the targets’ violation of Presidential Decree 1602 as amended by RA 9287.
The team caught Joseph Olesco Isorena, 30, Joan Dominguez delos Reyes, 35, Benjie Bolala Fernandez, 24, and Liza Marcojos Salvidar, 41, in the act of revising and tallying the bets for the illegal numbers game locally known as “lotteng.”
Seized during the raid were 166 pieces of “papelitos”, two cardboard tally sheets, a calculator, seven ballpens, two cellphones and bet money amounting to P18,160.00.
A criminal case has been filed through inquest proceedings against the barangay official and his wife as maintainers/financiers of the illegal numbers game operation, as well as Isorena, Fernandez and Salvidar for being collectors and cabos.
In Rizal, San Andres, only three men were apprehended out of the scores participating in a “tupada” last Feb. 12, with the police recovering two fighting cocks and P107.50 in cash.
The other cockfight aficionados scampered away in different directions as lawmen arrived at the back of Rizal Elementary School where the illegal cockfighting was being held. The team arrested farmer Vedasto Traqueña Solsona, 48, construction worker Edgardo Traqueña Solsona, 41, and Paquito delos Santos Rodriguez, 72. A case for violation of Presidential Decree 449 was filed against the suspects, who were subsequently released after depositing a P12,000 cash bond each.