By Mortz C. Ortigoza
“Huwag na daw nating pag –usapan iyon (We will not discuss it),” my radio tandem Harold Barcelona, who was already on air for two minutes with the traffic chief, blurted out when I entered the radio booth of DZRD 981 Sonshine Radio.
“Huwag na nating pag usapan” means we would not discuss on air the photos of Carlito Ocampo, Dagupan City’s traffic chief, who went viral at social media Face Book after he was pictured releasing his fighting cock in a cockpit arena in the City.
“Why would we not discuss it? It’s the big talk of the town and that’s what people want to know why the Public Order & Safety Office (POSO) chief was inside the arena’s glass wall covered platform preparing to release his cock, er, rooster to duke out with its opponent by slashing each other with their “Blade of Gory”. Besides, there was nothing illegal there since Ocampo was inside the cockpit in that weekend,” I countered.
Before the second half of the program and with some seven minutes commercial break, Ocampo, a retired policeman, acquiesced to my prodding to go public and explained that the picture taken by an elected barangay official a certain Village Kagawad Decano,who was identified with the mayor’s rival, took the photos on November 19 a Saturday.
“How about the two POSO enforcers who were seen escorting Ocampo inside?” Harold posed.
“If they were there inside to inform Ocampo of a pressing problem and they did not bet, there was no irregularity there,” I retorted.
Ocampo, who was probably enlightened about my argumentation, warmed and heated up and prepared himself for a tit-for-tat of with his critics who relished demonizing him at radio and social media when he was seen inside the “bulangngan”.
He said it was not true that it was taken last December 7, a Wednesday.
“You go to the OSSBC (One-Stop-Shop Business Center), you can see there that the Tapuac Cockpit Arena opens only every weekend".
He said he was a cock fighting aficionado since he was a policeman.
The small amount he bet, he explained, came from the hard earning he got from his security agency.
“Mga ilan ang security guards niyo all over Region-1?” Harold posed.
“Mga 400,” Ocampo answered
“So kumikita pala si Kuya Lito (Ocampo) ng more or less P800,000 a month,” I mentally calculated at P2000 per guard and quipped.
“Kinsenas lang iyon,” Harold, who was poor in math, butted in.
“Hinde naman!” Ocampo coyly denied.
Ocampo said he was willing to be investigated by anybody where they could include his cockpit days when he was a policeman.
“Why make a big fuss on this, you go to the cockpit every weekend and you can see elected officials bet there for their favorite cocks,” he emphatically argued.
“Pati iyong nag picture elected government official, kasama ko ring nagsasabung,” he added.
“In pari delicto (in equal fault) pala kayong dalawa,” I blurted out with amusement.
“Saan nabibili iyang “In pare delicto”, kasamang Mortz?” Harold asked me again.
“Sa Quiapo” I told him to the amusement of Ocampo.
Ocampo told his detractors that in case he would be sacked from his post at POSO “hinde ko iiyakan iyan, magpapa-inum pa ako!”
He said he accepted the thankless job at the traffic office because it was “pay – back time” to the mayor who played a significant part of his burgeoning business.
Are government officials like Ocampo allowed to gamble during weekends?
According to my research through Google, the memorandum circulated by the national government was to bar public officials to go to casino.
“In view of its negative effect on the public perception of government service as a whole, the mere entry or presence of government officials and employees in a gambling casino shall be considered as conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, unless the same was in the performance of official duties and functions” in a memorandum circular signed last September 20 by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
Memorandum Circular No. 6 enjoins all government officials and employees to strictly observed and comply with the prohibition against going to gambling casinos.
There was no prohibition for public officials in patronizing a licensed cockpit arena.
If a government official is caught in a tupadahan (unlicensed cockpit makeshift covertly held in the middle of the corn field) or any kind number games even it is a boxing match of Manny Pacquiao versus Floyd Mayweather during his duty, the official would be meted with the penalty on Presidential Decree 449 or Cockfighting Law or faces up to 90 days imprisonment as mandated by Section 3 of Republic Act 9287 or Increasing the Penalties for Illegal Numbers Games.
Notwithstanding other Philippine gambling laws that could be thrown to him like those in Articles 195 to 199 of the Revised Penal Code (Forms of Gambling and Betting); RA 3063 (Horse Racing Bookies); PD 483 (Game Fixing); PD 510 (Slot Machines) in relation to Opinion Nos. 33 and 97 of the Ministry of Justice; PD 1306 (Jai-Alai Bookies); and other city and municipal ordinances for gambling all over the country.
If a collector, agent, coordinator, controller, supervisor, maintainer, manager, operator, financier or capitalist of any illegal numbers game is a government employee and/or public official, whether elected or appointed, he would be meted a penalty of up “to twenty (20) years and a fine ranging from Three million pesos to Five million pesos and perpetual absolute disqualification from public office", according to the new illegal number game law.”
Before I end my column, here’s a poser:
If A and B, government employees, were caught playing “Tong-Its (card game)" during office hour inside the sala of the judge and both argued that they committed no offense since they were playing it without a bet, were both A and B liable administratively?
Here’s the Supreme Court:” While this may not be considered as “illegal gambling” under existing penal laws or “gambling prohibited by law” punishable as a light offense under RRACCS (Revised Rules in Administrative Cases in the Civil Service), such government official should be held, at the very least, for misconduct”.
The high court explained that their defense that they were simply having an innocuous card game without monetary bets does not excuse their misconduct. It then quoted Albano-Madrid v Apolonio (A.M. No. P—1-1517, February 17, 2003) as follows: “What is more alarming, in our view, is respondents’ nonchalance concerning the effect of their misconduct”.
“Saan nabibili ang nonchalance?” my radio tandem Harold Barcelona immediately asked after I mentioned the above Supreme Court’s decision on “Tong-Its”.
“Punta ka doon sa Mercury Drug or sa St. Joseph Pharmacy, baka may stocks pa,” I meekly told him.
(You can read my selected columns at http://mortzortigoza.blogspot.com and articles at Pangasinan News Aro. You can send comments too at firstname.lastname@example.org)