Senate to invite Bong Pineda to probe into small town lottery anomalies
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate is set to invite Rodolfo “Bong” Pineda, the husband of Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda, to its investigation into the anomalies involving the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
Senate public order and dangerous drugs committee chair Panfilo Lacson said the panel would invite Pineda to shed light on the issue of small town lottery or STL, which is alleged as being used as a front for the illegal numbers game or jueteng.
“Yes, we might consider him in the next hearing. Napakaraming probinsya siya ang nag-ooperate (There are may provinces where he is operating). At the same time, may (there are) allegations ng (of) guerilla or ‘bookies’ operation,” Lacson told reporters after the hearing on Monday, February 12.
Lacson said a messenger from Governor Pineda came to his office after the previous hearing on January 24, where Mr Pineda’s name first came up. The messenger, the senator said, was asking for a meeting between the governor and him.
At the time, Mr Pineda was accused of being the real operator of Evenchance gaming firm in Camarines Sur and that he was just hiding behind a dummy.
Lacson said he agreed to have a meeting and even told the messenger to invite Mr Pineda as well.
“After the last hearing, I had a visitor in my office. Very close to Bong Pineda. Initially gusto makipag-usap ni Governor (Governor wanted to talk to me) because his name was mentioned. She wanted to explain something to me. So I said: Not only the governor, I'm willing to talk to Bong Pineda. Wala namang personalan ito,” Lacson told resource persons.
However, a few days after, the messenger called the senator to inform him that the meeting would not push through because the Pinedas were told that the PCSO was set to terminate Evenchance’s license to operate. The messenger supposedly said they got information that it was Lacson who pushed for the cancellation.
“Sabi ko sa [messenger], it’s up to him. I'm not forcing him to talk to me, not forcing him to give me information. But ang purpose pala ng pakikipagmeeting nya ay para mapa-reconsider ang pinag-usapan natin dito last time, then it’s all personal, (But their purpose for calling for a meeting is to reconsider what we discussed in the repvisou hearing, then it's all personal)” Lacson said.
The move, Lacson said, only shows that Mr Pineda is indeed the operator in Camarines Sur and in other areas as well.
“It only shows na totoo nga na si Bong Pineda nag-ooperate sa Camarines Sur. Not only there but in areas na nakalista (that it is indeed Bong Pineda who's operating in Camarines Sur. Not only there but in other areas listed). The question and I know the board or the GM (General Manager) or some AGMs (assistant GM) would know sino talaga totoong operators dito sa mga nakafront sa (who are the real operators using fronts in) STL operators,” he said.
In an earlier hearing, PCSO Board Member Sandra Cam also alleged that Mr Pineda is close to General Manager Alexander Balutan.
Governor Pineda has denied the allegations. In a video clip posted on GMA, Pineda denied her husband’s ties to Balutan.
“Wag kang mag-akusa kung wala kang ebidensya. Sa akin madali mag-akusa pero totoo ba yun?” the governor said. (Don't go throwing accusations without evidence. It's easy to accuse but are they true?)
Mr Pineda was investigated in the past for his known links to the illegal numbers game jueteng. (READ: Bong Pineda: From runner to kingmaker)
A 2001 Newsbreak report describes Bong Pineda as a "reported lord of jueteng" who "gained nationwide notoriety because his alleged operations had corrupted and harmed no less than the institution of the presidency." (READ: Gambling on politics)
"Almost legend, Rodolfo Quijano Pineda was implicated by Ilocos Sur Governor Luis 'Chavit' Singson in his testimony before the Senate last year  about jueteng collections channeled to deposed President Joseph Estrada," wrote Chay Hofileña in a Newsbreak story. – Rappler.com