A Manila fiscal dismissed outright the illegal gambling charges the police slapped on Manila Vice Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso and five councilors of the Third District of Manila for lack of evidence, resulting in Moreno’s group to be released yesterday after 11 hours of being detained in Station 3 of the Manila Police District.
Manila Prosecutor’s Office Chief Inquest Prosecutor Elaine Yarra-Cerezo ruled there was no sufficient evidence to warrant the indictment of Moreno and Councilors Jong Isip, Joel Chua, Rey Fugoso, Letlet Zarcal and Yul Servo.
Cerezo dismissed all the charges for illegal gambling, traffic obstruction and resisting arrest filed by Manila policemen against the Manila City officials.
The dismissal of the charges against them bolsters allegations that the arrests conducted on them the other day were politically-motivated.
Moreno said their release only proved they did nothing wrong and there was nothing illegal in the bingo event which was being conducted in a private property when a “battalion” of policemen pounced on them.
“Finally, we were released by Fiscal Cerezo for insufficiency of evidence. Thank you for your prayers and support. It shows we did nothing wrong,” stressed Moreno.
Moreno and the five councilors have maintained they did not violate any law or even the Omnibus Election Code.
The arrested Manila officials slammed their illegal arrest, saying they were innocent of the crimes hurled against them.
Moreno insisted Republic Act No. 9287 which amends PD 1602 excludes bingo among the prohibited act of gambling.
“It’s a plain, clean and simple fanfare,” said Moreno as he said the holding of “tupadas” (cockfights) are much worse and the operations of which are all over Manila.
“Why don’t they arrest those involved in tupada, in bookies, in video karera? Does money changed hands in these illicit operations? Why don’t they just go after all illegal gambling operations in Manila instead of wasting their time on trying to stop us from what we’re doing,” Moreno said as he vowed to fight tyranny and tyrants in the city.
“We will fight all hoodlums... those who have been throwing their weight around because of the belief that they are the law. We should always remember that we are in a civilized society where tyrants have no place,” Moreno said as he pleaded to law enforcers to reject unlawful orders.
He branded their arrest as political harassment. “This harassment was not the first time. They even executed a peace covenant with us and now, here comes another political harassment,” lamented Moreno.
The harassment came a day after Moreno and reelectionist Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim signed a peace covenant in front of Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes for the conduct of a honest, orderly and peaceful elections.
Moreno pointed out they are being harassed since he and his allies switched party to join former President Joseph Estrada in the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) for the May elections.
The vice mayor and 29 out of the 36 councilors who were previous allies of Lim all transferred to UNA which will field Estrada against Lim for the mayoralty race in Manila.
Isko Moreno had teamed up with Lim during the 2010 election where they both won in a supposed alliance arrangement where Lim is with Liberal Party (LP) while Isko Moreno ran under the Nacionalista Party (NP) before shifting to UNA party. Lim subsequently picked top city councilor Lou Veloso as tandem for the coming elections.
The six were brought to Manila City Hall for inquest proceedings around 4 a.m. yesterday after their fingerprints were taken by the police.
The police blotter of the Manila Police District (MPD) Station 3 showed they were arrested and brought to Station 3 at 5:20 p.m. and taken to Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center 8 p.m.
Prior to the arrest, Moreno said he rushed to Tambunting Street in Barangay 384 after being informed by the arrested councilors they were being harassed during the ongoing bingo.
Moreno said he explained to the policemen at the site that there was nothing illegal in what they’re doing. But the policemen said they were just following an order from the “higher up” whom they did not name.
“So what kind of law do we have here? When we transferred to another party, it is already illegal,” Moreno said.
Because of the incident, Moreno vowed to seek justice in the proper forum and file charges against all those involved in their illegal arrest.
Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim maintained the arrest were according to law and lauded the MPD elements who made the arrests for standing their ground against all forms of illegal gambling in the city.
The mayor also lamented that while illegal gambling is a clear violation of the law, those arrested even had the temerity to ‘politicize’ their arrest by portraying that they were underdogs and claims being harassed by the police, even insinuating that he (Lim) is behind their arrest.
“The police is there to assert what is right against what is wrong. They cannot just close their eyes because the violator is a government official,” Lim added, noting that based on the reports of the police, the illegal gambling was without permit, being done right on the street and the assembly served as an obstruction to traffic.
MPD Station 3 chief Col. Ricardo Layug, in his report a copy of which was furnished the office of MPD Director Chief Supt. Alex Gutierrez and that of the mayor’s, said that when he and his men arrived at the Tambunting Street in Sta.Cruz where the illegal bingo is being held, a dialogue was already concluded by his men, led by Blumentritt police community precinct head Chief Inspector Ed Morata where they requested the councilors to stop the games since they had no permit for it and were already violating the anti-obstruction and anti-illegal gambling laws.
Layug said his men allowed the councilors when they switched to holding a raffle and everything was peaceful until Moreno arrived, questioned the police and then allegedly even taunted the cops present by telling their people “papayagan ba nating mahinto ito?” (Will we let them stop this?).
At this point, Layug said he had to stand his ground and told Moreno that if they will insist on continuing the illegal gambling, they will have to be arrested because they are violating the law.
Moreno, instead of heeding the warning, reportedly dared Layug, “o colonel, arestuhin mo na `ko” (So Colonel arrest me) and then ordered for a `bolilyo’-containing the bingo numbers to be brought to him, picked a number and had it announced, so that he had to be stopped, Layug added.
Layug said that based on the complaint received by Morata and which became the basis for their action, coordinators of the said group were selling bingo cards for P10 each and bore the names of the candidates concerned.
Gutierrez said Moreno and the five councilors were subjected to inquest at 2:30 a.m. for violation of PD 1602 as amended by Republc Act 9287 or the anti-illegal gambling law, obstruction, assault on an agent of a person in authority and resisting arrest. Vice President Jojo Binay and Estrada were reportedly present during the inquest.