Bishop Cruz to snub Congressional probes on jueteng
Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz of the Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng on Wednesday night said he won’t allow himself to be used again in any Congressional probes that would compel him to “name names” in his expose that two top security officials are receiving at least P2 million monthly payola from jueteng lords.
Cruz explained that because of his sad experience during congressional inquiries on the jueteng issue in the past, he has lost confidence that such probes would result to the prosecution of known jueteng beneficiaries and gambling lords.
“Trabaho ng PNP ang imbestigahan ang aking isiniwalat. Marami silang intelligence funds para gawin ang kanilang trabaho. Kapag binigyan nila ako ng subpoena sa Kongreso para ilabas ang mga pangalan ng mga nasa listahan, e papasok na lang ako sa kanilang kulungan,” the Archbishop from Pangasinan told National Press Club officials led by Benny Antiporda and Rolly Gonzalo during the “Meet the Press” forum being held Wednesdays at the NPC’s Bulwagang Plaridel.
The media forum was also attended by DILG undersecretary Rico E. Puno who had held the limelight since the August 23 hostage-taking incident in Manila which claimed the lives of eight Hong Kong nationals and now the emerging jueteng issue.
Bishop Cruz’s sentiment had been aired by jueteng whistleblower Sandra Cam who claimed that she no longer trust the Senate or House inquiries “in aid of legislation.”
“Di ko na gusting um-attend sa mga ganyang imbestigasyon. Kung gusto ng Aquino administration na ipahinto ang jueteng, kailangan lang nila na magkaroon ng political will. Walang mangyayari dyan sa mga congressional investigations na ‘yan, tulad nang nangyari sa amin nuon,” Cam was quoted as saying in a radio interview.
Bishop Cruz said aside from two top Aquino government officials, at least eight local churches are receiving or benefiting from the jueteng operations. Four other governors in Luzon, he said, are now jueteng operators themselves.
The prelate said the government, particularly the PNP and other law enforcement agencies, should be the ones conducting the investigation and prosecution of the gambling lords and the people who benefit from their operations.
“The government should conduct a through and honest and investigations on the people behind or protectors of jueteng. It should use its huge intelligence funds to find out and prosecute these people. Hindi ako. Kung hindi nila kaya, e, dapat umalis ni sila sa pwesto” he said, refusing to identify or give a clue on who are the personalities in his “jueteng list.”
Puno, for his part, suggested that since jueteng is a social crime and that he has not yet heard since time immemorial of any convictions of those arrested and charged in court for illegal gambling, the initial remedy is to beat the jueteng lords in their own game, that is via the PCSO’s Small Town Lottery (STL).
“Since STL is being used by gambling lords as a convenient front for jueteng, I think that the initial solution to that problem is to use STL to beat jueteng. We just need to improve and correct the flaws of the STL and eventually defeat jueteng,” he explained.
The government, he said, he is aware that majority of the STL franchisees are known gambling lords themselves, and this made them easy to manipulate the collection and remittance to the illegal jueteng and legal STL.
Under the DILG and PNP’s proposal, there would be amendments to the issuance of STL franchises and this would be limited to every town and city; the raffle draws to be held transparent (in a public place) to determine the winning combination and the prizes that could be drawn from it; while the LGUs’ and the local PNP shares from the proceeds will be increased.
“By doing so, lalaki ang share ng isang LGUs at local PNP units from the PCSO-STL revenues kung puro sa STL at di sa jueteng bookies tataya ang mga tao,” he said.
Yesterday, newly-installed PNP chief Gen. Raul Bacalzo, who is himself linked by Cam in the jueteng scandal, dished out a directive to all police regional and provincial directors, city and town chiefs of police to launch an all-out war against jueteng.
I have heard and seen such kind of directive as often as a PNP chief is installed. But every time, nothing happens in those directives and campaigns. Majority of the top PNP officials love jueteng, if you know what I mean.
The only way to beat jueteng is to use legal jueteng which is the STL. To succeed, the government should allow gambling lords to play around and find loopholes in the STL regulations.
For feedback and comments, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Romie Evangelista