MANILA, Philippines—A group of security officials known as the “Three Kings” has taken over the collection of grease money from “jueteng” operators under the Aquino administration, according to a list of gambling lords and their protectors prepared by a junior police officer.
Jueteng, an illegal numbers racket patronized by the poor, generates an estimated P37.7 billion in gross sales a year.
Each member of the “Three Kings” receives between P5 million and P8 million in monthly payola, according to the list.
Sandra Cam, a jueteng whistle-blower, Wednesday said that the list was subsequently verified by Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng (People’s Crusade Against Jueteng) of retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz.
The Inquirer obtained a copy of the document, which listed a total of 12 personalities that included two governors, two retired police chief superintendents and a retired senior superintendent.
The so-called “Three Kings” are composed of an official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) closely identified with President Benigno Aquino III, another retired chief superintendent and a ranking police official in active service.
Willing to testify
Cam said the junior officer, based in Camp Crame, was willing to testify against the “Three Kings.”
“He’s fed up,” Cam, a key member of Cruz’s group, told the Inquirer in an interview Wednesday. “He can’t bear seeing police officials getting jueteng money left and right while the President proclaims a path toward righteousness (matuwid na daan).”
But Cam made it clear that jueteng payola had yet to reach the Office of the President in Malacañang.
Over the weekend, Cruz revealed that two of Mr. Aquino’s trusted officials overseeing security matters were receiving a minimum of P2 million in jueteng payola.
At least five more officials in the “lower echelons” of the Aquino administration were also receiving bribes, he added.
The police informant approached Cruz’s group two weeks ago through Cam, apparently owing to her network within the Philippine National Police during her days as a jueteng “bag woman.”
The two met in a secluded location in southern Metro Manila to tackle how the informant could go about making public everything he knew about jueteng operations.
The junior police officer apparently possessed damaging pieces of information such as how jueteng money placed in boxes were delivered to his PNP bosses in their offices every week.
Cam said the informant had promised to come out in the open and testify once the measure ensuring the safety of whistle-blowers was passed into law.
As per the junior police officer’s account, jueteng payola gets to the Three Kings through a retired official formerly affiliated with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), who receives collections nationwide from a civilian with the initials “E.F.”
E.F. reportedly took the place of “Boy Tangkad,” a known collector for illegal gambling who was gunned down in Manila last year.
In the list, the informant identified 10 cities and provinces from Northern Luzon and Cagayan Valley, to Central Luzon, Metro Manila and Western Visayas where jueteng operations were supposedly active.
In Cagayan Valley, operations were allegedly handled by the brother of a chief superintendent. Jueteng activities in Pasay, Parañaque, Muntinlupa and San Pedro, Laguna, are reportedly under the jurisdiction of a newly retired chief superintendent.
In Bacolod, the document claimed jueteng was operating under the guise of the government-sanctioned Small Town Lottery. The alleged point man was a relative of an incumbent lawmaker.
Interior Undersecretary Rico E. Puno earlier admitted receiving feelers from jueteng operators seeking an audience on how the underground lottery could flourish under the new administration, particularly in Northern Luzon and Southern Tagalog.
But Puno refused to identify the operators, saying they violated no law.
More cops on the take
At a press conference at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in Manila, Cruz Wednesday said the growing list of officials receiving jueteng bribes mostly belonged to the PNP.
He said there were more policemen receiving jueteng bribes than those who were not.
Cruz disclosed that he met with “knowledgeable sources” of the Krusada ng Bayan Laban sa Jueteng on Tuesday afternoon to “compare notes.”
“In that meeting, I came to know that there are many, many more people involved in this matter, and I would like this to be very clear: Most of these people are in the PNP,” Cruz said.
He declined to identify the PNP members receiving bribes from jueteng operators, saying the executive department must also do its job to uncover the truth.
Cruz said his group was hopeful that unlike retired PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa, his successor, Raul Bacalzo, would take action to curb the illegal numbers racket.
Ignored by Verzosa
The senior prelate said he had previously sent Verzosa two letters on jueteng matters but the latter ignored them. Cruz said he received a response to his first letter from someone else but his second letter was completely disregarded.
“We see hope for the Krusada ng Bayan, that there is a new face in the PNP and hopefully new values will be injected in the police,” the archbishop said.
Asked to identify what provinces these policemen linked to the illegal numbers racket were assigned, Cruz said, “That is easy, if you know the provinces where jueteng is thriving, that is where these policemen are assigned.”
Vatican of jueteng
In July, Cruz identified Batangas, Pampanga and Pangasinan as the areas with most active jueteng operations.
On Wednesday, Cruz said he agreed with the statement of former Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. that Lubao, Pampanga, “is the Vatican of jueteng.”
More draws seen
In urging the administration to look into the ranks of the police, Cruz warned that the amount of jueteng payoffs was gradually increasing as the barangay elections, scheduled for Oct. 25, drew near.
With the forthcoming election period, jueteng was expected to become more active, with at least four draws in a day, according to Cruz.
“The very productive months as far as jueteng is concerned is before elections, to raise campaign funds and after, to pay for debts incurred in the past elections,” he said.
Christian Esguerra & Jocelyn Uy, Phil. Daily Inquirer