THE country’s top crusader against illegal gambling has thrown in the towel.
Former Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz admitted being “beaten to the ground” primarily because President Benigno Aquino 3rd had publicly announced that “jueteng is not his priority.”
“Talo kami (we lost). I accept defeat openly. Taas ang kamay pati paa (we rise our arms and feet in surrender),” Cruz told The Manila Times.
He said the Krusada ng Bayan Laban sa Sugal which he founded more than a decade ago has been disbanded.
“The Krusada is no longer existing as a group. It has been defeated. I can say that (Aquino) is sugar (gambling)-oriented. Jueteng flourished under his watch and the number of casinos grew. We now have 35 casinos all over the country,” Cruz stressed.
“It seems that jueteng is ‘paralegal’ under this government. We decided to disband the krusada when we heard him say years ago that jutting is not his priority. So, what’s the point in fighting in a battle where defeat is already certain?” the prelate added.
Cruz was the staunchest anti-jueteng critic, having identified several personalities, including government officials who were supposedly “on the take” from jueteng operations.
“We attended several Senate and congressional investigations. We gave all the pertinent information. Boy Mayor was even assassinated yet nothing happened,” he bewailed. Mayor was allegedly involved in the illegal numbers game before deciding to turn whistleblower.
Jueteng is a game of chance that involves the combination of 37 numbers against another set of 37 numbers—from one to 37. In some areas the numbers run up to 38. Like a lottery, bets are placed and accepted per combination, and its variants.
Jueteng was classified as a crime against morals by Presidential Decree 1602, passed during the time of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos. On July 28, 2003, Republic Act 9278, which increases the penalties for illegal numbers games, amending certain
provisions of Presidential Decree 1602, adopted more stringent measures to “stop and eradicate” the illegal numbers games.
It was estimated that the total number of people who bet on jueteng may reach almost 10 million.