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Illegal gambling still going strong

Archbishop produces new witnesses 'proving' crooked officials still run illicit game

Illegal gambling still going strong
Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz listens during a Senate inquiry into the numbers racket 'jueteng'
Lourdes Abelardo and Artemio Dumlao, Manila

April 6, 2011

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An anti-gambling crusader says the involvement of local officials in the illegal numbers racket jueteng is still strong despite attempts to stamp it out. To prove his allegation, retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz, head of the Nation's Crusade Against Jueteng organization, presented what he called three key witnesses at a press conference yesterday. "Please take note that these witnesses are local government officials themselves," the prelate told reporters. During the press conference, Archbishop Cruz presented Mannie America, Lord Arnel Ruanto and Maxiel Mortiz Jr., members of the municipal council of Infanta province, who claimed that jueteng is still rampant in their area and that other local government officials were involved. America revealed that a vice mayor even offered them a bribe in exchange for their silence. "When we asked where the money came from and for what purpose, he told us that it was profits from jueteng," he said. Jueteng is a numbers game where a player picks a combination of numbers from 1 to 37 and can bet in amounts ranging from US$.01 to US$100. It involves thousands of people betting and millions of pesos each month. People in the Philippines compare jueteng and the gangs behind it to the number rackets and the Mafia in the United States. A study done by Archbishop Cruz's organization revealed that jueteng operations in Quezon province alone yield more than 600,000 pesos (about US$14,000) a day. "If you have three draws of around 600,000 pesos profit each. In a year that’s about 200 million pesos,” said Gary David, executive director of the organization. PM13882.1648

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