MANILA, Philippines—Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima believes most politicians in the country rely on jueteng, the illegal numbers game, to keep themselves afloat during elections.
Over dinner with Inquirer editors and reporters last Wednesday, Purisima said that politicians do not involve themselves in armed robberies.
“The fundraisings of most politicians are in illegal gambling,” Purisima said.
Sociologists have said that most Filipinos turn to jueteng or illegal gambling as an alternative to the lack of jobs and livelihood, hanging on to the promise of quick cash by placing a minimal bet.
However, a number of politicians allegedly dip into the multi-million peso proceeds of jueteng, even operating it, to keep the underground industry thriving.
Deposed President Joseph Estrada was convicted of plunder for accepting P545 million in proceeds from jueteng.
Today, Purisima said, jueteng continues to be rampant because it has found a “shield” in the government-sanctioned Small Town Lottery run by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
“Right now, what they (jueteng lords) do is they have a shield. STL is a legal game that has a franchise from PCSO,” Purisima said.
In 2005, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo tasked the PCSO to help in eradicating jueteng through the STL.
Purisima said the police could not go after jueteng lords and operators because the National Police Commission had issued a resolution “prohibiting policemen from conducting raids against STL without the permission of the PCSO or the franchise owner.”
He said the Napolcom resolution was issued in 2008.
Purisima said the PNP had “verbally recommended” that the Napolcom should stop its inadvertent protection of jueteng.
“You can try what the police can do without the shield,” he said.
In December last year, the Department of Interior and Local Government said it would investigate Pangasinan Governor \Amado Espino for alleged involvement in jueteng.
The bloody encounter in Atimonan town in Quezon province that killed 13 people was allegedly rooted in a turf war over jueteng.
One of the fatalities, Victor “Vic” Siman, the alleged target of the operation led by Superintendent Hansel Marantan, was reportedly a jueteng lord.