Go ahead and play ‘tong-its,’ but you can get arrested for it

April 24, 2019 - 6:06 PM
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Cards game
Cards being held by a player in a game. (The STAR/File photo)

Two people were arrested by the Pasil police in Cebu City for playing “tong-its,” which is a violation of a presidential decree.

Genelyn Racuba Nabua and Jonie Lerma Barillano, residents of Barangay Calamba, were caught playing the illegal cards game on April 20, 2019 at 3 p.m. in “plain view,” according to the police report.

Another man who was with them managed to escape and evade authorities.

Police recovered one set of playing cards and P40 worth of cash as bet money from the suspects.

“Tong-its” is a popular street card game that involves three people who agree on a certain stake at the beginning.

These stakes may be of any amount but it usually ranges from 1-3-5 pesos and may go as high as P10, P30 and P50.

The game has been described as a combination of poker, mahjong, “pusoy dos,” “pusoy” and gin rummy.

Against the law 

Playing “tong-its” is unlawful under Presidential Decree 1602 as amended under Republic Act 9287 since it is considered illegal gambling.

PD 1602 prescribes stiffer penalties for illegal gambling which includes the following:

  • Games of cockfighting, jueteng, masiao, last two, jai alai or horse racing to include bookie operations and game fixing, numbers, bingo and other forms of lotteries;
  • Cara y cruz, pompiang and the like;
  • 7-11 and any game using dice;
  • Blackjack, lucky nine, poker and its derivatives, monte, baccarat, cuajao, panguingue and other card games;
  • Paik que, high and low, mahjong, domino and other games using plastic tiles and the likes;
  • Playing slot machines, roulette, pinball and other mechanical contraptions and devices;
  • Dog racing, boat racing, car racing and other forms of races;
  • Game fixing, point shaving and other machinations that involves basketball, boxing, volleyball, bowling, pingpong and other forms of individual or team contests; 
  • Banking or percentage games, or any other game scheme, whether upon chance or skill, wherein wagers consisting of money, articles of value or representative of value are at stake or made

Even those simply possessing gambling paraphernalia or materials related to illegal games and activities aforementioned may be apprehended.

A person can be imprisoned from 30 days up to 16 years, depending on whether they are a bettor, a staff of an illegal numbers game operations, a collector or an agent, a controller or supervisor, a manager or operator and a financier or a protector.