Ex-PNP chief now ‘jueteng operator,’ says Archbishop Cruz

OUTSPOKEN Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz alleged Wednesday that a retired Philippine National Police (PNP) director general is the operator of “jueteng,” an illegal numbers game, in the whole province of Pangasinan.

“Totoo ‘yan [That’s true],” Cruz told reporters at the weekly “No Holds Barred” forum of the National Press Club of the Philippines.

Cruz said the illegal operation translates to an estimated daily net earnings of P8 million to P9 million, or some P270 million a month.

Cruz, founder of the Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng, did not identify the former PNP chief who retired years back.

The prelate said that jueteng is again rampant in the whole country, particularly in Northern, Central and Southern Luzon areas, and also in part in the Visayas; while “masiao,” another form of illegal numbers game, is more popular in Mindanao.

“It’s very, very rampant,” Cruz said, even as PNP Chief Director Gen. Avelino Razon had given him the assurance that the whole PNP is one with Krusada’s anti-gambling advocacy.

Asked why jueteng is unstoppable despite PNP’s support, Cruz explained that it is so because the equation now is different than it was several years ago.

“Before it was the police who acted as protector of jueteng and gave money to politicians. Now, it’s the politicians who are the protectors and give money to the police,” Cruz said. “Police authorities are afraid of the politicians.”

He added that the much ballyhoed “small town lottery” or STL, which the government-run Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office launched several years ago to stop the operations of jueteng in the provinces, is a paper tiger.

Cruz said that the majority of STL franchises are also owned by known jueteng lords in the provinces and likewise used the existing jueteng structure.

“There is one person, a jueteng lord, owning as many as 23 STL franchises listed in different corporate names,” Cruz said.

The influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) had come up with strong collective statement two years ago against STL.

“This is an urgent and ardent plea addressed to our government officials from the local to the national level. It is also a straight and strong appeal to private individuals and corporate entities involved in the same serious moral issue with socio-political undertones,” CBCP President and Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said in behalf of the CBCP.

The STL, according to the CBCP, is no doubt the “legal cover-up for the illegal numbers of game of jueteng,” which simply worsened the problem of gambling because the operation of jueteng now goes side-by-side with STL with the same operators and collectors and the same poor victims twice exploited.

“STL and jueteng together is legal and illegal gambling combined. They are a dangerous and insidious pairing,” it pointed out, adding that as a result, the poor people become poorer while the gambling operators and payola recipients become twice enriched.

Likewise, the CBCP, in a pastoral statement dated March 10,2003, bluntly stated that gambling is a moral and social cancer. It also said that gambling in the country has become an insidious subculture of pervasive corruption.

It was followed by a collective policy last year, wherein the CBCP has directed Church personnel and Church institutions to refrain from soliciting or receiving funds from illegal and legal gambling so as not to promote a culture of gambling.

“Gambling that is organized, widespread and systemic, whether legal or illegal, is not desirable. It creates a culture that seriously erodes the moral values of our people,” the CBCP further said in its collective policy.
— William B. Depasupil (ManilaTimes)

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