Isko, 5 Councilors Arrested Over Illegal Gambling

MANILA, Philippines - Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno and five members of the city council were arrested Saturday on illegal gambling charges.

Moreno and District 3 Councilors Jong Isip, Joel Chua, Rey Fugoso, Yul Servo, and Letlet Zarcal were taken to the Manila Police District (MPD) Station 3 on Blumentritt Street, Sta. Cruz, Manila, at about 5:30 p.m. after they were arrested over the operation of bingo on Tambunting Street, Police Officer 3 Alvin Plantado said.

Police said Moreno and the five councilors will be charged with illegal gambling (PD 1602). But Moreno and the District 3 councilors said they are studying the possibility of filing counter-charges against the arresting policemen.

Councilor Isip said they were holding the bingo game in a private property on Tambunting Street during a barangay assembly in Barangay 374, Zone 37, in District 3, Manila, when policemen swooped down in the area and arrested them.

"The police said we were an obstruction but we are not obstructing anything since it was a private property," Isip said.

Moreno, who sustained bruises after he was dragged by policemen, described the arrest and the ensuing scuffle as similar to "martial law."

He and the five councilors were later taken to the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center in Sta. Cruz for medical checkup.

The vice mayor said the councilors were holding a bingo game in private land on Tambunting Street when they called him after policemen came to arrest them.

"When I came, the policemen said gambling is not permitted and we asked them why. We explained there is no money involved, this is just fanfare. The people became angry at the policemen and there was chaos so we decided to go with the police peacefully so no one would get hurt... It was like martial law here in the city of Manila," Moreno said.

Moreno stressed that that it is not yet the campaign period for local officials so they are not violating election rules set by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Former President and Manila mayoral candidate Joseph Estrada went to MPD and promised to send a lawyer for Moreno and company.