Duterte says he'll 'let jueteng be' for now
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte, who had previously warned of a crackdown on illegal gambling, said he would leave jueteng operations alone for now.
"If I cannot replace it itong with this strong itong lotto (lottery), hayaan ko muna kasi nandiyan na 'yan eh (I'll let it be because it's there)," he said in a speech last Friday, June 22.
He said jueteng, an illegal numbers game, is an economic activity that helps "circulate" money in provinces. If he orders police to crack down on them now, no other economic activity would take its place, thus supposedly crippling local economies.
"Kung wala akong pampalit sa jueteng, ano ang gawin ko? Madali man 'yan…Hulihin man nila 'yan lahat then what is the economic activity? Wala. Eh kung may jueteng, at least umiikot yung pera. Yung iba gutom pero yung iba naman kumakain and there is a commercial activity there," he said.
(If I don't have a replacement for jueteng what will I do? It's easy...But even if they catch everyone, then what is the economic activity? None. If there's jueteng, at least the money is going around. Some are hungry but others are eating and there is a commercial activity there.)
In the meantime, Duterte said he is "brainstorming" with some Cabinet members on a system that would "guarantee income to the government."
His latest remarks contradict his usual tough talk on crime, particularly on illegal gambling.
In 2016, he threatened to close all online gambling operations. The year after, he signed an executive order to "intensify" the fight against illegal gambling. It had even been touted by the Philippine National Police as the "war" they would wage after the "war" on illegal drugs.
Yet Duterte has ties to at least one gambling lord, even describing gaming tycoon Charlie "Atong" Ang as his "friend."
The President admitted asking Ang to help the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), supposedly with its efforts to stop illegal gambling.
But Duterte's own appointee PCSO general manager Alexander Balutan accused Ang of wanting to take control of Small Town Lottery operations, a type of gambling regulated by the government.
Balutan even claimed Ang offered PCSO officials P200 million a month if they would give him control over STL nationwide. The general manager also said Ang is yet to settle millions in unpaid taxes. – Rappler.com