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Failed launch elates execs; ‘jueteng’ bettors happy

/ 01:46 AM April 14, 2012

Palace officials, diplomats and those handling and managing disasters were relieved that North Korea’s long-range rocket had exploded and broken into pieces in the air. In a town up north, “jueteng” bettors laughed their way to the bank.

Several bettors in the illegal numbers racket in Cagayan reaped a small fortune on Friday after the numbers they picked—culled from the failed rocket launch—emerged among the winning combinations.

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Bet collectors interviewed by the Inquirer from Buguey town in Cagayan province said the combination 23-37—a rather macabre choice—won several thousand pesos for at least two bettors, one winning P8,000 on a bet of P25.

A second bettor ended up P3,000 richer on a bet of P10.

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In jueteng numerology, 2 and 3 may represent a “coffin” while 37 may mean an “aircraft,” a bet collector said. The collector asked not to be identified because officially, jueteng is banned in the area.

In Lal-lo town, several bettors picked the winning combination of 17-21, according to another bet collector.

The 17-21 combination supposedly stands for young men with outstretched arms, or people anticipating the dropping of scrap metal from the sky.

‘Worst is over’

“When news spread that rocket parts may fall in the northern part of Cagayan, everyone started talking about how much cash could be made by finders of scrap metal,” the Lal-lo collector said. “They got jueteng winnings, instead.”

Malacañang, at least, was relieved that North Korea’s launch ended in failure. Reports from the hermit state earlier said the second stage of the rocket would crash 190 kilometers east of Luzon.

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“We are happy that no harm came out of the failed launch,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said. “We remind North Korea that we all share this planet and urge it to be a better neighbor.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs appealed to North Korea to desist from further acts of provocation.

“Notwithstanding its failure, we deplore the launch undertaken by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario told reporters. He urged the North “to cease any future provocative acts, such as the launch of another missile.”

“The worst is over,” the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) declared.

Flights back to normal

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) lifted an earlier no-fly order directing pilots to avoid certain areas of Luzon that had been included in the rocket’s planned flight.

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines said that effective 9:30 a.m. Friday, all PAL flights covered by the rerouting or contingency flight paths had reverted back to their normal flight path.

At least 11 international flights were affected by the no-fly directive on Thursday.

“It’s as though an enormous burden was lifted off my shoulders,” NDRRMC executive director Benito Ramos told reporters.

The NDRRMC earlier expressed concern that the rocket could veer off its projected flight path and hurl debris on land below. This prompted disaster officials to call on residents in some Luzon provinces to stay indoors.

“That missile was like a cannon that was 1,000 times more powerful,” Ramos said. “They said it was an overkill but that’s better than nothing at all.”

The Department of Transportation and Communications said the ban on the sailing of merchant marine and fishing vessels within the area where the Korean rocket might fall had been lifted.

“This puts to end all our anxieties,” Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) deputy administrator Nick Conti said.  “We are lifting our no-sail order on the designated areas effective immediately.”

Prayers work

Some Catholic bishops said they were glad that prayers against the rocket launch worked but they also pitied the North Korean people.

“I am happy our prayers were heard,” Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes told reporters over the phone. But he addded:   “I pity the North Korean people because their leaders wasted millions of dollars for a failed project while millions are hungry.”

Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez agreed that the money used for the rocket project should just have been spent on food. “It’s good that the rocket launch failed,” he added.

Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco said the botched rocket launch was another reminder that man cannot control everything.

Back to beaches

The news that the rocket launch had failed came as a relief to residents in the Cagayan fishing communities of Gonzaga, Buguey and Santa Ana, which had been declared as“no-fishing” zones.

“Everything is going back to normal now. We see children coming out to swim on the beaches while our fishermen are busy preparing their boats, raring to sail out to sea tonight,” said Eminio Albindo, chair of the Santa Ana’s fisheries and aquatic resources council.

News of the failed rocket launch did not come as a surprise, according to Sister Minerva Caampued in Santa Ana. “Our people have always believed in the power of prayers,” she said.

Days before the launch, Cagayan residents circulated prayers by text messaging.

Aurora, Baler, Legazpi

In Aurora, Gilbert Magos, a fisherman from Baler, said he lost P40,000 in potential income from catching tuna because he heeded orders not to sail out to sea. He said he could have used the money for his three children, one of whom is in college.

Ten Baler fishermen owning bancas defied the no-sail policy, saying they had to feed their families. Policemen on speedboats ordered them back to the shore.

In some areas in Isabela province, government workers distributed food packs to fishermen following the fishing ban.

In Legazpi City, authorities lifted the alert that had been declared in the provinces of Camarines Norte and Catanduanes.

In Quezon province, fishers in Dalahican in Lucena City, lamented they lost a day’s earnings. “I decided not to fish. Now, I’ve lost a day’s earning for nothing,” Reynaldo Damaso said.

Fisherman Edgardo Alma said the failed rocket launch was “God’s will.”

But it was learned from villagers that only a few fishermen had heeded the no-sail warning. “There were lots of them who still went out fishing,” said a fish vendor. Reports from Melvin Gascon and Villamor Visaya Jr., Inquirer Northern Luzon; Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon;  Mar S. Arguelles and Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon; and Tina G. Santos,  DJ Yap, Paolo G. Montecillo, Norman Bordadora and Jocelyn Uy

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TAGS: Cagayan province, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), illegal numbers racket, Jueteng, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), no-fly order zone
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