Pacquiao sis, 26 others slapped with illegal gambling charges

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/4 Aug) – Police authorities have filed illegal gambling charges against a sister of boxing sensation and Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao and 26 other suspected gambling bettors and coordinators who were arrested in a raid at an alleged operations base of an illegal numbers game here last week.

Chief Insp. Leo Sua, investigation and detection management section chief of the city police office, said they filed a complaint before the City Prosecution Office against Isidra Pacquiao-Paglinawan and the other suspects for violation of Republic Act (RA) 9287 or the anti-illegal numbers game law.

He said they filed the complaint based on various evidences they gathered during the July 29 raid at Paglinawan’s residence in Barangay San Isidro here that supposedly serves as operations base of the “last two” illegal numbers game in the area.

Sua said the 26 persons who were arrested during the raid were charged for allegedly acting as either “last two” bettor or coordinator.

“We filed higher charges against Paglinawan because she allowed the use of her house as base of illegal gambling activities. It appears that she’s a maintainer of the illegal numbers game being the owner of that house,” the police official said.

Section 3e of RA 9287, or an Act Increasing the Penalties for Illegal Numbers Games, provided for the penalty of imprisonment for 12 to 14 years for persons who would be found guilty as maintainer, manager or operator of the illegal numbers game.

“Last two” was defined by RA 9827 as “an illegal numbers game where the winning combination is derived from the last two numbers of the first prize of the winning sweepstakes ticket which comes out during the weekly draw of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), and its variants.”

In this city, authorities said “last two” operators now derive their winning number combination from the daily lotto draws of the PCSO.

Armed with search warrant no. 10-59 issued by Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 35 Judge Oscar Noel, police operatives here swooped down on Paglinawan’s residence and allegedly found the suspected “last two” bettors in the act of possessing various illegal gambling materials and collected cash bets.

The raiding team, who failed to arrest Paglinawan, specifically recovered some P33,781 of suspected collected cash bets and assorted illegal numbers game paraphernalia such as stamp pad and stamp with markings “ground zero,” notebooks and ledgers of cash flows, several mobile phones and calculators.

Sua said they found some text messages detailing supposed submitted bets from the confiscated mobile phones.

Lawyer Giovanni Mata, Paglinawan’s counsel, said the 26 suspects were ordered released by Judge Noel last Saturday after they posted a bail bond of P16,000 each or a total of P416,000.

He said the bail bond was raised based on contributions from the families of the 26 suspects.

Mata, who arrived at Paglinawan’s house during the raid, said they will file within this week a complaint for unlawful arrest, arbitrary detention and robbery against members of the police raiding team.

He contended that some of the supposed illegal gambling bettors arrested during the raid were mere well-wishers of Rep. Pacquiao’s father Rosalio, who was then celebrating his birthday at a nearby house.

But Sua countered that the raid was legitimate as it was based on a search warrant issued by a court.

“We followed the standard procedures in conducting raids and we were able to secure the inventory of the received properties that was properly signed by the witnesses as well as a certification of an orderly or good search in the presence of the house’s occupants during that time,” he added. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)