PNP Urged to Issue Directive Banning the Smashing of Confiscated Gambling TVs and Other Electronic Devices

 Danny Pata, GMA News TV

 Eddie Leanillo, Remate



Strike Jem, Mindanao Magazine

A waste and
pollution watchdog group today requested the leadership of the Philippine
National Police (PNP) to stop the polluting practice of breaking impounded TVs
and other electronic devices used in illicit gambling activities.

In a letter sent to Police Director-General Alan La Madrid Purisima, the
group rebuffed the common practice of physically trashing illegal gambling
apparatuses with sledgehammers, warning that mayors and police officials may be
inadvertently turning a police matter into a health and environmental issue.

The letter, which was also sent to Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar
Roxas, PNP Public Information Office (PNP-PIO) Director Reuben Theodore Sindac
and National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Carmelo Valmoria,
was prompted by the destruction last week of over 100 video karera (VK)
machines at the NCRPO headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.

The EcoWaste Coalition recalled that 112 VK machines were also destroyed in
Camp Bagong Diwa in March of last year, citing a published article at the PNP

“While commending the PNP for
its relentless campaign against unlawful gambling operations, please allow us
to express our legitimate objection over the unsafe manner of manually
destroying the VK machines, particularly the TV sets, using sledgehammers.,”
wrote Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Dizon explained
that gambling TVs, specifically the old analog TV sets, are loaded with harmful
chemicals such as cadmium, lead, mercury and brominated flame retardants, to
name a few.

The inappropriate destruction of gambling TVs causes their hazardous components
to be dispersed not only in the immediate surroundings, but even in far-flung
dumpsites and landfills where these are finally disposed of and thus
contaminating the water, air and soil, he said.

According to “Poison PCs and Toxic TVs,” “each computer or television display
contains an average of 4 to 8 pounds of lead.” 

“When these components are illegally disposed and crushed in landfills, the
lead is released into the environment, posing a hazardous legacy for current
and future generations…  These heavy metals and other hazardous substances
found in electronics can contaminate groundwater and pose other environmental
and public health risks,” it said.

The group also pointed out that some gambling machines may be coated with
leaded paint, warning that improper destruction will disturb the
lead-containing paint, creating and scattering toxic chips and dust that pose a
health hazard to kids and adults alike.    

Instead of smashing TVs and other devices used in illegal gaming activities,
the EcoWaste Coalition requested the PNP to:

1.  Issue a clear directive prohibiting the improper destruction of video
karera gambling machines, particularly TV sets, by the use of mallets,
sledgehammers and other devices, as well as by dumping or burning them.

2. Send the confiscated TVs and other electronic gambling paraphernalia to
hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal (TSD) facilities duly
accredited by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources –
Environmental Management Bureau for proper dismantling and recycling.

3.  Donate undamaged and functional TV sets to needy schools and
charitable institutions.

“As a replacement for the customary sledgehammer photo op, our local government
and police officials could simply hand over the seized equipment to a
registered TSD facility operator and that would be enough to deliver the
message, in a non-polluting way, that the PNP is ready to apply the full force
of the law versus illegal gambling,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.