MANILA, Philippines—Some of the lawmakers from Ilocos to Bicol are not only receiving payoffs, but are directly involved in “jueteng,” an illegal numbers racket, whistle-blowers said Monday.
In a surprise appearance at the House games and amusement committee, whistle-blower Sandra Cam said lawmakers from these Luzon regions continued to receive jueteng payola.
“From my conscience, yes,” Cam said, choosing to answer San Juan Rep. Joseph Victor Ejercito’s question if there were lawmakers receiving payoffs even though she had the option not to.
She later said: “There are many congressmen until today—I don’t want to name names—they acted not only as receivers of payola but operators.”
At least P500,000
Cam told reporters that the congressmen were getting a minimum of P500,000 each, but declined to name them lest she be sued for libel as had happened when she accused Representatives Juan Miguel and Ignacio Arroyo as jueteng recipients in 2005.
The committee, chaired by Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing, conducted its own investigation of jueteng, other illegal numbers rackets and Small Town Lottery (STL).
Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz, who exposed officials close to President Aquino receiving payoffs from jueteng, also backed Cam’s allegations.
“Jueteng is flourishing under the present administration,” Cruz said, taking by surprise Ejercito who had asked if the racket became more rampant in the previous Arroyo administration.
Reminded that the Aquino administration has been in power for only three months, Cruz said: “Sorry to say that there was a resurgence. And we ourselves are at a loss, ‘What’s this?’ That’s what we get from the ground, and that’s what I think is the basis of the report of Sen. [Miriam Defensor] Santiago.”
Ejercito remarked that this was “very alarming” since Mr. Aquino was pursuing the “right path” (daang matuwid) to governance.
Cruz replied: “I’m having doubts about daang matuwid. I am sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Still, I entertain the hope, that someway somehow somebody somewhere will find the daang matuwid. I’m not yet hopeless, and yet I’m not that hopeful.”
Cruz, head of the Krusada ng Bayan Laban sa Jueteng, said there was no “godfather” of jueteng.
“There are now jueteng operators, who were not jueteng lords before. More and more individuals, especially in local government, are becoming operators, divorcing so to speak from the efforts of the original jueteng lords,” he said.
“Frankly, the challenge is more, precisely because they are scattered. Jueteng lords are still there. There are some public officials who assert, ‘No more jueteng lord. I am the lord,’” he added.
Mini Coopers for PCSO
Cam said the payoffs extend to officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
She said STL operators were so generous that they had given Mini Coopers to PCSO directors. “A month before the GMA (Arroyo) administration went down, there are directors who received Mini Coopers worth P2 million each,” Cam told the committee.
Addressing PCSO General Manager Jose Ferdinand Roxas II, Cam said that the directors linked to STL companies run by jueteng operators were still on the PCSO board.
“You still have remnants there. Unless removed, nothing will happen here. Everything will be moro-moro,” she said, quoting an informant within the PCSO. “Look for the directors who received Mini Coopers.”
She later told reporters that she was referring to five PCSO directors.
TJ Burgonio, Phil. Daily Inquirer