Bishop Cruz: New PNP chief’s hands are tied against ‘jueteng’
The nemesis of gambling lords, Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz, on Friday said he would go easy on new Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Nicanor Bartolome as far as “jueteng” was concerned.
Cruz said he wasn’t expecting the illegal numbers racket to be stamped out under the new PNP leadership since neither of Bartolome’s superiors—President Benigno Aquino III and Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo—were against it.
“I will not challenge him because his hands are tied,” Cruz told the Philippine Daily Inquirer over the phone.
Claiming that jueteng had been thriving under the cover of the legalized Loterya ng Bayan, Cruz said: ‘‘It’s hard to blame him if jueteng goes on. I won’t find fault with him because his own President is not against jueteng and the [Interior] Secretary, Jesse Robredo, is neither against jueteng.”
The prelate said: “If his President and the secretary of the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) are not against jueteng, how could he afford to be against jueteng? He will find himself in a big rut if he works for the eradication of jueteng.”
Cruz, a former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and head of the Krusada ng Bayan Laban sa Jueteng, added: “If during his incumbency jueteng lords are happy as they could be, I won’t blame that on him.”
Cruz last year submitted to the Senate a list of supposed top beneficiaries of jueteng money, which included the names of Interior Underscretary Rico E. Puno and retired PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa, as well as those of other government officials and retired PNP officers. Puno and Verzosa denied receiving gambling money.
Jueteng is estimated to generate P37.7 billion in gross sales a year.
Speaking on Church-run Radio Veritas, Tagbilaran Bishop Leonardo Medroso said Bartolome must give prime attention to security problems, particularly in Mindanao.
“He is facing many challenges. Primarily, it’s the peace and order situation in the country, especially in Mindanao,” Medroso said.
Medroso said the problems included kidnapping, clan feuds (rido) and bombings.
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