CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Pampanga Archbishop Paciano Aniceto Wednesday said some priests in the Archdiocese of San Fernando are “relatives, close friends and beneficiaries” of “jueteng” operators.
“With this cultural situation, the [archdiocese] has issued a primer and two pastoral statements in support of the [Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines] guidelines on the morality of gambling,” Aniceto said in a text message to the Inquirer.
He did not reply when asked how many of the 120 priests in the province were receiving jueteng money. Former Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. once called Pampanga the “Vatican of jueteng.”
“Those engaged in the operation of jueteng are also members of parish communities,” Aniceto said, without giving names.
“As parishioners they feel that they have an obligation to donate something to the parish during fiestas and other celebrations,” he said.
Pampanga Auxiliary Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said priests in Pampanga in 2005 adopted the antigambling position of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
“[We] made our own anti-jueteng pastoral [letter], that we would not solicit from publicly known gambling lords even for church or charity projects,” David said.
“Whether or not we could receive unsolicited amounts being voluntarily donated by publicly known gambling lords is where we have a gray area. We did not reach a consensus over the latter,” he said.
Those known to receive donations from jueteng financiers in Pampanga use the money for various reasons, according to some priests reached by the Inquirer.
Some used the money to build or repair chapels or churches. Others solicit money for foreign trips or to support their extravagant lifestyles or vices like gambling, the priests said.
David, Fr. Marius Roque and former Pampanga Gov. Eddie Panlilio earlier said that in the province, the state-sanctioned Small Town Lottery (STL) was serving as a front for jueteng.
The illegal numbers racket, they said, was robbing the poor of their hard-earned income and was corrupting politicians, policemen, court personnel and media workers.
When Panlilio, a Catholic priest, served as governor from June 2007 to June 2010, several priests campaigned against jueteng by encouraging their parishioners to stop betting on the illegal numbers game.
In a pastoral statement in January 2005, the CBCP said that “in its illegal form, especially jueteng, gambling has bred a clandestine network of corruption that feeds itself on the hundreds of millions of pesos lost to gambling especially by the poor.”
The CBCP urged priests to “refrain from soliciting or receiving funds from illegal and legal gambling so as not to promote a cultureof gambling.
Tonette Orejas, Phil. Daily Inquirer