MANILA, Philippines — With a directive, President Benigno Aquino III can stop operations of the P30-billion underground lottery, according to Eduardo “Among Ed” Panlilio, former governor of Pampanga province, the so-called “Vatican of Jueteng.”
During the hearing, Sen. Gregorio Honasan asked Panlilio to assess the Aquino administration’s attitude toward calls to eliminate jueteng once and for all.
“We don’t see the administration’s determination,” Panlilio replied. “We’re not hearing from the President on this. No comment from him. We hope he would make an all-out statement on his stand about this matter.”
Alarmed that even children were being used as jueteng collectors in the province, the Catholic priest Wednesday reminded senators that any comprehensive effort against the illegal numbers racket would require unequivocal support from the President.
“If the President orders it to stop, it will be stopped,” he reiterated to reporters what he earlier told the Senate investigation into jueteng under the Aquino administration.
“If the President says it should be removed, it would be removed. He just needs to issue the order and put the right people—straight people—in the job.”
Panlilio said the matter would ultimately boil down to “political will.”
“We still believe in Noynoy, but he should show political will,” he said. “He may be looking for a solution right now, but ultimately, he has to decide. We believe that he has the good intentions that only need to be translated into political will.”
Panlilio was invited to the inquiry led by the blue ribbon committee to share his experience against the illegal lottery as Pampanga governor.
Panlilio admitted that he had failed because of a number of factors, such as the Philippine National Police’s lack of support.
“The refusal of the PNP to give me a provincial director of my choice told a lot about how so special Pampanga was to (PNP officials),” he told senators.
Most appalling to the former governor was the disclosure that children were being used by their parents, who were working as jueteng kubrador, to collect bets for them on campus and from employees in the provincial capitol.
Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, the chair of the blue ribbon committee, furnished reporters a copy of a PNP intelligence report showing the gross daily and monthly jueteng collection in Regions 1 to 5 and Metro Manila.
Pampanga topped the list with a monthly collection of P300 million, according to the report prepared by Chief Supt. Noel Manabat, the PNP deputy director for intelligence.
Pangasinan followed with P240 million, Quezon Province P180 million, Batangas P150 million and Tarlac, Nueva Ecija and Bulacan with P120 million each.
In Metro Manila, the monthly collection was P90 million for the southern part, P60 million for Quezon City, P30 million for Marikina and P18 million for Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela.
Panlilio said the drive against jueteng in his province was hampered by the government-sanctioned Small Town Lottery (SLT), which served as a “camouflage” for the illegal numbers racket.
He showed senators copies of STL tickets bearing no security features. He said STL collectors doubled as jueteng collectors and usually wrote bets for the illegal lottery on the same tickets.
Panlilio agreed with Honasan that jueteng could be eliminated, starting with political will. Said the senator: “If (the government) wants to, there’s a way. If it doesn’t, there are so many reasons.”
In Dagupan City, priests and members of the Lingayen-Dagupan archdiocese in an Oct. 3 statement supported the campaign against jueteng by retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz.
“We reiterate the position manifested by Archbishop Cruz that jueteng has been tolerated by local government units and the police in Pangasinan to operate and thrive over the past decades. We stand by (his) claim that jueteng payola has corrupted the moral fiber of governance in our local governments,” the statement said.
The Pangasinan provincial board, however, warned in a manifesto published in local newspapers that anyone who attempts to destroy the credibility of Gov. Amado Espino “should be declared persona non grata.”
Christine Esguerra, Phil. Daily Inquirer