CHIEF Superintendent Renato Gumban, acting director of Police Regional Office (PRO) in Negros Island Region (NIR), on Monday directed all police chiefs to stop all illegal gambling activities in the region.

The directive came after Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald de la Rosa declared a war against illegal gambling nationwide Monday, following the issuance of Executive Order No. 13 intensifying the government’s fight against all forms of illegal gambling signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last week.

Part of the executive order is for the regional police to conduct “one-time-big-time” operations to make their areas of jurisdiction free of illegal gambling.

All operators and personnel engaged in illegal gambling will be arrested, Gumban said, as he warned policemen to stop accepting money from illegal gambling operators.

One-strike policy

The three heads of police offices under the PRO-18 warned police chiefs that they will be held liable if they fail to comply with the recent directive against illegal gambling.

Senior Superintendent Jack Wanky, officer-in-charge of Bacolod City Police Office, said non-compliance of the directive is also applicable to him as well as heads of the city police forces.

Senior Superintendent William Señoron, acting provincial director of Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office, said there will be consequences for non-compliance among the station commanders in the province.

Senior Superintendent Henry Viñas, acting provincial director of Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office, said station commanders will be relieved from their posts if they are ineffective.

"Not bloody"

De la Rosa declared an all-out-war against illegal gambling, but he said that unlike the PNP’s suspended war against illegal drugs, the war on illegal gambling will not be bloody.

"The Philippine National Police will continue to hit hard on all forms of illegal gambling activities in line with Executive Order (EO) No. 13 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte… By this pronouncement, the PNP is hereby declaring war against illegal gambling," De la Rosa said.

On February 2, Duterte signed EO 13 to strengthen the fight against illegal gambling and clarify the jurisdiction and authority of concerned agencies in the regulation and licensing of gambling and online gaming facilities.

The said order directs the PNP, the National Bureau of Investigation, and other law enforcement agencies to coordinate with the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and the Department of Information and Communications Technology in the conduct of anti-illegal gambling operations.

It said they also have to involve gambling regulatory authorities such as the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority and Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan in the conduct of investigations and operations in their areas of responsibility.

De la Rosa assured that unlike the PNP’s suspended war against illegal drugs, the war on illegal gambling will not be bloody.

"Hindi naman crazy 'yung mga player ng gambling, unlike sa drugs na walang tamang pag-iisip kaya nagkakaroon ng patayan. Pumapatay nga sila kahit hindi sila nate-threaten 'di ba. Itong mga illegal gambling pera-pera lang ito. Hindi ito kailangan magbuwis ng buhay," he said.

De la Rosa said the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) will be the lead unit for the anti-illegal gambling operations.

"Based on our own experience, illegal gambling activities if left unchecked, breed corruption and may mutate into other forms of organized crime, including drug-trafficking, illegal vices, money-laundering and kidnapping," he said. (With reports from SunStar Philippines)