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Jueteng middleman accuses Albay gov of accepting bribes from illicit gambling operators

February 15, 2024 Philippines Crime & LegaliGaming & Gambling

A self-proclaimed intermediary for unlawful gambling, known as “jueteng,” has filed a lawsuit against Albay Governor Edcel Greco “Grex” Lagman, saying that the governor collected up to P8 million in bribes from illicit gambling operators while serving as the province’s vice governor.

Lagman denied these accusations right away, placing the blame on his political rivals. He said that the 35-page complaint that was submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman on Tuesday, February 13, was written with malicious purpose. Declaring, “I have never accepted any jueteng payoffs,” he refuted the allegations.

When Noel Rosal, the elected governor, was disqualified for breaking election laws on public expenditure while serving as mayor of Legazpi City, Lagman, who had first been elected as vice governor in 2022, assumed the office. Rosal was governor from June 30, 2022, until December 1, 2022.

Alwin Nimo, the complainant and a former chairman of the Anislag barangay in Daraga town, said that Lagman took payments from the province’s casino operators for over three years, from August 2019 to June 2022, while serving as Albay’s vice governor.

Nimo accused Lagman of a number of crimes, including outright bribery, breaking anti-corruption rules, violating public official ethics, and passing regulations that would have punished illegal gambling with more severe penalties.

Declaring that he acted as a go-between for Lagman and Albay’s jueteng operators, Nimo claimed firsthand knowledge of the purported bribery scheme. He went so far as to say that he personally provided P60,000 a month to the vice governor at the time.

Nimo has already accused Lagman in public of corruption. He disclosed the alleged crimes to the local media in the beginning of 2023 and expressed his desire to be granted government protection and state witness status.

Fearing for his safety and the safety of his family, Nimo said Lagman was a target because he wouldn’t take money from local casino operators.

Additionally, Nimo’s cousin Dexter Maceda corroborated the allegations with an affidavit supporting bank transaction slips that said he had sent P60,000 a month into Lagman’s Banco de Oro-Timog branch bank account at the then-vice governor’s request.

Lagman wondered why Nimo had made this charge now, figuring it had something to do with a Senate investigation into Albay local government. Upon receiving a copy of the complaint, he promised to provide a thorough response, rejecting the charges as baseless and politically motivated.

“My conscience is clear,” Lagman said, reiterating his innocence.

Original story by: Rappler

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