GenSan councilor faces death threats from suspected gambling lords

GENERAL SANTOS CITY  (MindaNews/26 Sept) — A city councilor has reportedly received death threats after turning down earlier this month an alleged P2 million bribery attempt by suspected gambling lords based in the city.

Councilor Dante Vicente, chair of the city council’s peace and order committee, told reporters over the weekend that he received the death threats through a text message sent a week ago by an unidentified person.

He did not give the exact details of the threat but said they appeared to be connected to the failed bribery.

“I believe these threats were from the same group that earlier offered  the P2 million to make me back off from the anti-illegal gambling campaign,” he said.

Vicente, a second-termer councilor who was a former station manager and crusading anchor of Bombo Radyo for over a decade,  has been actively supporting the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) crackdown against the operations of the “last two” illegal numbers game in the city.

He revealed that a supposed emissary of  alleged gambling financiers approached him last September 1 to offer the bribe money.

Citing an alleged letter from the group, he said they asked him to back off from the campaign against illegal gambling and influence the local police to slow down with their continuing crackdown against “last two” and other related illegal activities.

“I’m not a rich man and such huge amount could be very tempting but it’s my duty to protect our people from these illegal activities,” Vicente said.

He did not name the alleged emissary but said the latter was not directly involved in illegal gambling activities in the city.

Vicente said police authorities have already launched a probe regarding the bribery attempt and the recent threats on his life.

He said among those eyed as possibly behind them were some “last two” financiers and backers of the proposed entry of jueteng and Jai Alai operators in the city.

The city government and the PNP earlier stepped up the campaign against illegal gambling operations, especially of “last two” that noticeably became rampant in the last two years.

“Last two” is an illegal numbers game where the winning combination is derived from the last two digits of the winning number combination of the daily lotto draw of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

A report from the PNP Region 12’s Public Information Office showed that various police units in the city and other parts of Region 12 (Southwestern Mindanao) have already arrested some 835 suspected gambling financiers, couriers and operators in 559 operations since January.

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Cotabato and Kidapawan.

The report said at least 534 cases have already been filed against illegal gambling suspects, who were mostly involved in the “last two” illegal numbers game. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)