Krusada’s anti-jueteng drive stalls

Written by Louie Logarta Sunday, 01 May 2016 00:00 font size decrease font size increase font size Print Be the first to comment!

The non-government organization, whose avowed goal was the total eradication of the illegal numbers game called jueteng, has given up the ghost. In short, it has gone pfffft.

"Talo kami. I accept defeat. Taas kamay, pati ang paa," according to retired Dagupan-Lingayen (Pangasinan) Archbishop Oscar Cruz who used to head the Krusada ng Bayan Laban sa Sugal (or People's Crusade Against Jueteng).

Cruz, who has a column in this newspaper, gained national prominence - and became controversial - some years ago when he publicly denounced several well-known people for their alleged ties to jueteng and jueteng lords.

Appearing in Cruz' hit list were the names of those allegedly "on the take" which included a ranking official of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), a sprinkling of provincial governors and city and town mayors, one prominent Filipino-Chinese businessman closely associated with a powerful senator from northern Luzon as well as some top officers of the Philippine National Police.

The archbishop claimed that he had gotten the names from reliable sources around the country who had voluntarily approached him to give the lowdown on jueteng, an unsophisticated betting game that has been flourishing since the time of the Spaniards.

Jueteng is banned in the country through Presidential Decree 1602 which was signed by the late President Ferdinand Marcos. In 2003, President Arroyo signed Republic Act 9278 amending certain provisions of PD 1602 and imposing more stringent penalties designed to end jueteng.

"The Krusada is no longer existing as a group. It has been defeated," the senior Catholic prelate said in an interview with the Manila Times recently.

According to Cruz, who is one of the country's staunchest anti-jueteng advocates, it was President B. S. Aquino's lukewarm attitude toward illegal gambling which finally broke the proverbial camel's back.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Aquino dispelled all lingering illusions he is against jueteng when he and Team Daang Matuwid, composed of Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo and the senatorial aspirants, went to Pampanga, which has around 1.2 million registered voters, to court the support of re-electionist Gov. Lilia Pineda (the better half of you-know-who) in the coming elections.

He did so in style during a big meeting with local leaders last March 22 in the City of San Fernando where he was the keynote speaker, and where Gov. Pineda dutifully gave them her "matamis na oo" before her kabalens that she would endorse their candidacies.

"It seems that jueteng is paralegal under this governmentso we decided to disband," Cruz was quoted as saying in the Times interview.

Cruz, a former president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, had previously submitted to the Senate blue ribbon committee several names of alleged beneficiaries of jueteng money in the government, but there was no action ever taken by the senators.

The jueteng business is estimated to generate some P40 billion annually that directly benefits some 10 million Filipinos in terms of income and livelihood opportunities.

Many have noted that jueteng is rampant in Central Luzon, which considered as the backyard of President Aquino, where thousands of cobradores derive marginal income to feed themselves and their respective families.

Cruz had said in an earlier interview he was sad that he was fighting a lonely battle against jueteng, because even the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines has chosen to be silent on the illegal gambling issue, for whatever reason.

"So what is the point in fighting a battle where defeat is already certain?" he said as he stepped off his Rocinante.

The #12-Anakalusugan partylist - whose first nominee is Marc Caesar Morales - has announced its endorsement of the candidacy of Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano who is running for vice president in the May 9 elections.

Aside from Cayetano, it was disclosed they would also be supporting the respective senatorial bids of jueteng whistle-blower Sandra Cam, Philippine Red Cross chairman Dick Gordon, Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, Sen. TG Guingona (a re-electionist), boxing idol Manny Pacquiao, former Sen. Ping Lacson, former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and former Bukidnon Rep. Migz Zubiri.

According to Anakalusugan's national campaign manager Eduardo Morales, who is a longtime member and benefactor of the National Press Club, they deem Senator Cayetano right for the job due to his nearly two decades' track record in the public service which has centered on fighting graft and corruption in government and speedy delivery of social amelioration projects.

The main advocacy of the group is empowering the nation with better health care, food sufficiency and adequate educational programs.

Source: Tribune