The new jueteng lord

Few people have heard about Boy Jalandoni. That’s Julio J. Jalandoni to be exact, married to Sylvia Espino. But his name shot to national prominence on Tuesday morning, Sept. 21, when his name was mentioned as the “jueteng” lord of Bacolod City during the Senate Blue Ribbon investigation into the illegal numbers game. Boy Jalandoni isn’t even from Bacolod City. He grew up in Jaro, Iloilo City and lives in the national capital, with address at 13 Apostol St., San Lorenzo Village, Makati City.

This man has kept a low profile for many years, although a quick check on Internet search engines reveal that he was among the favored few of the Arroyo administration, having been appointed to financially-rewarding positions. He sits on the board of directors of the Philcomsat Holdings Corp. and Philippine National Oil Co.

The search didn’t end there, however. The search engines kept turning out the names “Julio J. Jalandoni/Sylvia E. Jalandoni” on the radar screen. So I plunged deeper. This became a voyage of discovery at how rich (or maybe appear to be rich) the couple have become. Several giant corporations in the country list the couple among their top 100 stockholders, rubbing elbows with corporate securities firms and the super rich of the country. Consider the following:

  • In a disclosure report submitted by Atty. Ma. Caridad Gonzales, corporate secretary and compliance officer of Globe Telecom, Inc. dated July 14, 2009 to the Philippine Stock Exchange, the spouses Julio J. Jalandoni and Sylvia E. Jalandoni are ranked number 62 in the top 100 with 2,500 shares representing 0.0018% of the outstanding stockholdings.
  • Ayala Land Inc. listed the spouses at number 59 with 1,000,000 shares representing 0.0076%.
  • Jollibee disclosed that the couple owns 110,000 shares.

I have little knowledge about the stock market, but I can surmise that these stock holdings are worth in the hundreds of mllions of pesos. How did the couple amass so much wealth? So I dug deeper. From reliable sources, I learned that Julio J. Jalandoni  is a trusted aide of former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and his brother, the billionaire congressman Iggy Arroyo. He is described as a “bagman” of the former FG. Add one plus one, and you can easily figure out that Julio J. Jalandoni didn’t make all that fortune through hard labor. In fact, in the tradition of Jose Pidal, one can surmise that Julio J. Jalandoni is a “front” for the former FG.

Indeed, such services deserve to be rewarded. And rewarded, Julio J. Jalandoni was. The franchise for the Small Town Lottery (STL) for Bacolod City and Negros Occidental was awarded to him before the end of the Arroyo administration, although he isn’t really from the place. Indeed, it pays to be working for the right people. And recently, sources in the jueteng industry told me that Boy Jalandoni expanded into the more lucrative jueteng operations, with Iggy Arroyo as his patron in Negros Occidental. He is reputed to reap millions every month from this illicit operation.

This is how a little known individual became a national by-word when the Senate Blue Ribbon committee began its probe into jueteng operations. Retired Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz named Boy Jalandoni as the jueteng lord of Bacolod, and when he did, many people asked: “Boy who?”

While Jalandoni’s clout and power was anchored upon the Arroyos, he has his own power-base to lean on now that his patrons are out of power. Boy Jalandoni happens to be the father of Mark E. Jalandoni, deputy ombudsman for Luzon, and the acknowledged right-hand man of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.  This detail helps explain why Mark Jalandoni was appointed to the position over a more senior and better qualified candidate, Roque Dator. Jalandoni had the blessings of FG Mike, and his wife made sure he can perform the role of back-up for the Ombudsman during crunch time.

Meanwhile, the BIR might want to open the bank accounts of Julio J. Jalandoni and his spouse, Sylvia Espino-Jalandoni. The paper trail to the Arroyo plunder could start there. And the Blue Ribbon committee should summon Boy Jalandoni to its next hearing so he can start telling his story about how he became a super-millionaire.

Pototan: Iloilo’s ‘jueteng’ capital

Shortly after the present administration at the Iloilo capitol assumed power on June 30, there were stirrings in the town of Pototan, Iloilo as at least three “jueteng”, which is known locally as “daily double”, operators began to set up shop and bring the illegal numbers game back in business in the province. “Daily double” was absent, except for occasional guerilla-type operations, during the nine years of the Tupas administration, and the changing of the guard at the Iloilo capitol was a signal that the red carpet was now being laid out. Where Tupas strictly barred the illegal numbers game, there was now explicit consent from the capitol.

“Jueteng” has once again captured the headlines after retired Lingayen archbishop Oscar Cruz accused unnamed officials in the Aquino administration as receiving “payola” from operators. The amounts are not peanuts — two officials get no less than P2 million a month, Cruz said.

It’s not a secret that “jueteng” is an almost inexhaustible treasure vault of illicit cash. The “jueteng lords,” as the operators of the illegal numbers game are known, raked in hundreds of millions of pesos in earnings every year. That’s the reason in the province of Pampanga, “jueteng” has achieved complete domination of local politics. Fr. Ed Panlilio’s reform-oriented governorship was no match for the oodles of money given out by his rival, Lilia Pineda, who snatched the position from him after just one term. Lilia is the wife of “jueteng” lord Bong Pineda. Hence, politicians found it hard to resist “jueteng”, and it was only in Iloilo province where its promise of easy money wasn’t as welcome during the time of Tupas.

From our personal experience, I can attest that “jueteng” can’t flourish unless there is explicit approval from the capitol. The fact that it has now found its way back into the province, and even sits arrogantly in Pototan, is prima facie evidence that “jueteng” money is greasing hands in the governor’s office. Add to this the designation of P/Senior Supt. Gil Lebin as Iloilo provincial director upon express request of Defensor. Lebin was assigned in Pampanga for quite a while when Mikey Arroyo was congressman in that province. Add one plus one, and you can understand how Lebin would fit into the formula for making Iloilo the new frontier for “jueteng”. Lebin, by the way, is a native son of Pototan, Iloilo.

Strike One?