By Mortz C. Ortigoza
A Chief of Police (COP) of a second class town in Pangasinan could have two hundred thousand pesos a month where he could also get the free three square meals a day of his men.
Some of these monies were being used as gas fund for the patrol car, allowances for the mobile phones of the cops, and operational expenses like arresting a guy with warrant of arrest in a far flung province.
With President Rodrigo Duterte war on illegal gambling ensued months ago against jueteng and jai-teng, not only the mayors, vice mayors, and councilors but the chiefs of police were hit by the absence of the payola – the motivational factor for them where they are now perched at their present posts.
Blame the government run’s Small Town Lottery (STL) that put a stop to this perennial practice.
“a) To raise additional funds for PCSO’s health programs, medical assistance and services, and charities of national character; b) To provide funds to various local government units for their health program and medical assistance and services; c) To provide an alternative to illegal number game/operation and to aid their eradication; and; d) To provide additional opportunities for employment” explained by a letter of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes (PCSO) General Manager Alexander Balutan to the mayors in the country.
One province alone in Northern Luzon earns ten million pesos a day from the bets of the gullible and ignorant folks who did not know that they have been long manipulated by the illegal game operator.
“Without the payola from (illegal gambling) maintainers, many chiefs and those aspiring for the post would not gravitate for the position because handling a town or city is burdensome for an officer who depends on his salary only,” the COP said.
Since time immemorial, the position of the chief of police was envied by those officials in the Philippine National Police itself and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
A COP of a first class town who is a Superintendent could have earned one hundred thousand pesos a month in addition to his sixty thousand pesos gross salary monthly.
Journalists and cops mocked that a police senior inspector (Captain in the military) could financially outshine an Army General because the former received “intelligentsia” from jueteng, perya where illegal colored game drop balls were played, video karera, and others.
It was the fiery late broadcaster Rod Navarro, a former actor and Constabulary sergeant, who thundered in his morning radio program at DZXL-Manila where I am now one of their boxing experts: “Give me two Army one star generals who sat at their swivel chairs in Fort Bonifacio (Main Army headquarter in Manila) and I will give you PC Colonel X of Z Province!”
The uninitiated would pose: “What’s with that Colonel X that the two Army generals don’t have?”
Answer: Colonel X received almost two million pesos monthly from the Jueteng Lord while those Army generals could only pocket government funds by illegally jacking up the prices of their office supplies while their counterparts in Mindanao sell arms and bullets to the rebels so they could buy those flashy SUVs and ritzy house, and maintain some mistresses.
“Pasensiya na kayo kuya coffee lang ma offer ko sa inyo,” a media man narrated to me what the Chief of Police told him when he interviewed him.
He said during the heydays of illegal gambling, aside from coffee the COP including his predecessors did not only treat him with a cup of coffee but surriptiously inserted to his pocket one thousand pesos in a folded white or brown envelop media men in Northern Luzon called ‘pit-pit’.
“It was just yesterday that monies were everywhere where you can have “pitpit” from the mayor, vice mayor, and even council members whom each of them received a P10, 000 montly payola,” another reporter reminisced about the phenomena in a second class town.
The COP I conversed told me with the uncertainty of the comeback of the illegal gambling; many police officers would just go schooling for career advancement or stay in the provincial police office in a floating position than being a COP where one of the hazards is being sued by the kin of a murdered loved one who are accused of peddling narcotics.
‘Mabuti pa iyong mga mayors kahit walang jueteng makaka survived kasi may kurakot pa sila sa supplies, sa construction, at may social funds pa sila sa municipyo,” he said.
“Tough times lay ahead, sir,” another reporter quipped to the colonel.
I and a first class town mayor talked about an avaricious and corrupt member of the House of Representatives.
The spouse of this lawmaker chided a mayor when the former learned that the latter was responsible for the downloading of the sum of a multi-million pesos national project to a government bank in the province the latter faithfully followed up with the powers that be in Manila.
“Sabi ng mayor when it was downloaded from the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) the spouse of the lawmaker angrily called her on the phone. Ang sabi, bakit ninyo pinangungunahan ang project dapat sa amin iyan!” I said.
To the uninitiated, being a recipient of a project means twenty percent of the project goes to the pocket of the congressman. Politicians and private contractors called this anomaly in the jargon as S.O.P.
“Hinde lang ganid iyang mag-asawa ayon sa mga contractors, ma epal pa kahit kaunting drainage canal andoon na ang mukha nila,” my mayor friend narrated.
The hizzoner cited his experiences with his former congresswoman where a downloaded project was claimed by the underlings of the latter.
“Sasabihin nila na sila daw ang nag follow up sa Manila. I disagreed and argued with them. Tapos, hihirit kung ilang percent daw ang bigay ko sa kanila sa project. I told them bluntly, wala kayong porsiyento dito!”
The mayor added that his present congressman does not interfere with the dilemma of the mayor I mentioned earlier. He said whatever projects the mayors in the district chalked up in Manila the solon did not intervene.
Do we have congressmen and congresswomen like this non-covetous solon in the province?
(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)