New PNP chief: War on ‘jueteng’ nationwide

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—The police campaign to eradicate the illegal numbers racket jueteng will not only cover Pampanga, President Aquino’s home province of Tarlac, Pangasinan or wherever good governance advocates want it to be started, according to the newly installed Philippine National Police (PNP) chief.

“Sa lahat ng lugar (In all places),” Deputy Director General Nicanor Bartolome said on Wednesday when asked if the campaign would roll out first in Pampanga as proposed by the group Kaya Natin! last Monday.

In a text message sent by Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz, PNP spokesperson, Bartolome said under his watch, the campaign against crimes would “continue without letup and that includes operations against all forms of illegal gambling activity and other violations of law.”

Total approach

“Let me emphasize that deep-rooted as it is, completely stopping jueteng requires a total approach strategy by all sectors,” he said.

He said police action is “only one dimension of the total approach.”

“The larger and more important elements must come from the local political leadership, community and all stakeholders,” he said.

This echoed former PNP chief Raul Bacalzo’s position when he faced Senate committees investigating reports last year that the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office’s (PCSO) Small Town Lottery (STL), revived on orders of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2005, was being used as a legal cover for jueteng.

Jueteng in seven regions grossed P2.575 billion monthly, according to a police report submitted to the Senate. STL, on the other hand, made P9.5 billion from February 2006 to August 2010, PCSO officials told the Senate.

Getting frustrated

Harvey Keh, lead convenor of Kaya Natin!, a movement for ethical leadership and good governance, said the group was “getting frustrated” because Mr. Aquino has not made the antijueteng campaign among his administration’s priorities.

“We are now beginning to wonder why, given that he has always espoused ang matuwid na daan (the straight path). Until jueteng and other forms of illegal gambling are stopped, our country can never claim to have a straight path,” Keh told the Inquirer.

He assured retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz, chair of Krusada ng Bayan Laban sa Sugal (People’s Crusade Against Gambling), that Kaya Natin! was one with him and Krusada in the fight to end jueteng.

However, Keh lamented that Cruz singled out Kaya Natin!’s founders, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and former Pampanga Governor Eddie Panlilio, for not being able to stop jueteng.

“Among Ed was a staunch antijueteng advocate even before he was governor and up until now,” Keh said.

Aquino’s alter ego

He said Robredo “serves as the alter ego of the President and as much as he would want to wage an all-out war against jueteng, he is still waiting for the President to make a public pronouncement about this issue.”

In a statement, Panlilio said he failed to stop jueteng during his administration but this did not mean that he did not do anything about it.

“Anybody for that matter would not be successful,” said Panlilio who, as a priest, served as secretary of Cruz when Cruz was bishop of Pampanga.

“All of the elected officials then did not care to stop jueteng,” he said.

Panlilio said he asked then Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno to assign to Pampanga a police official who would stop jueteng but his request was not granted.

Panlilio urged the Aquino administration to stop STL and its forthcoming substitute, the PCSO Loterya ng Bayan.

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