CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Suspected “jueteng” lord Rodolfo “Bong” Pineda has met with 2,000 kabo (area managers) and kubrador (collectors) of the illegal numbers game on Wednesday night and tapped their help in the gubernatorial campaign of his wife, Board Member Lilia Pineda, according to her rival, Catholic priest Eddie Panlilio in a statement here on Thursday.
Pineda, 57, could not be reached for comment. He earlier told the Inquirer he was not running jueteng or STL in Pampanga.
Panlilio said he learned of the meeting from a collector in Bacolor town who was present in the gathering held at the farm-resort of Bacolor Mayor Romeo Dungca in Barangay Macabacle, also in Bacolor.
Reached by phone, Dungca said it was he who invited Bong Pineda to come to his place.
“I told him there are many people in my resort and that Nanay Baby (Lilia) is not here so would he care to come over, meet them, talk to them about her campaign,” the mayor said.
Dungca admitted that the crowd comprised of “some STL collectors from Bacolor, but many were barrio folks.”
Panlilio said he has reasons to be “alarmed” about the meeting because it showed the “apparent role of jueteng in the campaign of Lilia Pineda.” He has campaigned on a platform of good governance, with plans to stop jueteng and quarry corruption, issues that are linked to Lilia Pineda, 56, and reelectionist Gov. Mark Lapid, 28.
At the same time, Panlilio said he “felt sorry for these workers whose only interest is to earn a living for their families. They are being used in electoral campaigning.”
Those who came reportedly work in the City of San Fernando and in the towns of Sta. Ana, Mexico and Bacolor—all in the province’s third district.
The informant reported not seeing Lilia Pineda in the meeting. Reached by phone, she said she did not know about the event.
An Inquirer source involved in her campaign could not confirm the meeting either but surmised that if Bong Pineda indeed held one, it could be his own initiative to help his wife. Lilia Pineda had said that in the 19 years that she held public office, her husband had stayed out of politics. The net worth of his wealth is not known.
Panlilio’s source claimed that Bong Pineda arrived at midnight and gave a brief speech. “(He asked us) to ensure the winning of Baby (Lilia’s nickname).”
Bong Pineda was said to have also spoken against the priest by saying, “This early he’s been begging for money.”
The informant took that to mean that Panlilio was making money out of the donations to his campaign.
Panlilio said his campaign is run on private donations that are “properly accounted for by a finance committee and judiciously used by (my) campaign managers.”
The informant reported that collectors were not given money yet. He believed that money could come later because their area managers “remained for another meeting with 1-2.” Those numbers are the name they call Bong Pineda, a native of Lubao town.
Also on Thursday, Lapid fielded personnel to check on reports that money was being distributed in the meetings of Lilia Pineda at a restaurant here and in Cutud, Arayat. Pineda said the reports were “not true.”
The Wednesday meeting, and the reported incidents of vote-buying, saw Panlilio making appeals to voters to “choose candidates who are good, honest and genuinely committed to public good.”