jueteng’s wild

here we go again, another campaign to kill off jueteng.   does the new prez really think it can be done?   does the new dilg secretary really think he can do it?   if yes yes, i have no doubt that they have another think coming.  they should be listening to senator angara instead.

Sen. Edgardo Angara said Mr. Aquino might have given Robredo a “mission impossible” when he ordered the latter to stop jueteng.

“So many Presidents had vowed, tried but failed to stop it because it seems jueteng is so rampant and embedded in our society,” Angara said in a phone interview Sunday.

mission impossible indeed.   jueteng has been with us since spanish times.   the americans tried to stop it and failed.   here’s Alfred McCoy in POLICING AMERICA’S EMPIRE: The United States, The Phlippines, and The Rise of the Surveillance State [2009 University of Wisconsin Press, 659 pages] on jueteng since pre-commonwealth times.

Card games and casinos entertained the rich, but it was jueteng that enticed the poor. Since workers could win up to ten pesos, a week’s wages, on a one-centavo bet, it was irrepressibly popular. Bettors won by picking two numbers between one and thirty-seven. This seemingly generous gesture of allowing bets on two numbers instead of one raised the odds, through mathematical sleight of hand, from one chance in thirty-seven to one in 1,332. Through the illusion of easy winnings, the game tapped into lower-class aspirations and made this illegal lottery a central facet of Filipino popular culture that has persisted long beyond the colonial era. These odds also produced ample profits for its promoters and protectors. In the early 1930s leading Filipino police expert Major (Emmanuel) Baja expressed the opinion that jueteng had “nourished the gambling spirit of the people more than all other prohibited games put together” and was prevalent in “99% of our cities and towns.” While cockfighting and card games such as monte were a male-only activity, women worked as jueteng collects and often outnumbered male bettors, effectively doubling this racket’s working-class clientele. Moreover, the intimacy that developed between jueteng runners and poor bettors fostered social networks that could be moblized during elections. Through its unique integration into the fabric of Filipino mores and mass politics, jueteng fused illicit profits, police corruption, and political patronage into a resilient nexus that defied state controls.

While raiding monte clubs was difficult, stopping jueteng was impossible. Its powerful Chinese operators usually bribed local police and politicians for protection. In 1926, for example, jueteng bankers met an influential weekly payroll: provincial governors two hundred pesos, muncipal mayors one hundred, police chiefs fifty, and patrolmen five. Three years later Manila’s mayor gave his police “strict instructions to eradicate this vice within the city limits,” but the operators simply moved their base to the nearby suburbs of Pasay and Malabon. Whenever the police made an arrest, the lowly cobradores (runners) went to prison on full pay, sparing the principals, who hired new men to keep the lottery running. (pages 156-157)

commonwealth president manuel l. quezon tried to stop it too, and failed too:

Calling on the National Assembly to impose tougher penalties in September 1937, the president condemned jueteng as a “criminal racketeering business” that victimized the poor. Simultaneously, State Police commissioner Leon Guinto told the province (Laguna)’s police chiefs that 90 percent of their men were on syndicate payrolls. When Calamba’s police chief proved reluctant to act, Inspector Ramon Mijares swooped down on the town with raids marked by “midnight chases, police sirens screeching, shots in the dark, and fist fights.” After a month of police pressure, however, the largest lottery in the capital, Santa Cruz, run by the governor’s wife, was still active and Calamba soon had at least three jueteng draws back in action. Even after a two-year campaign marked by the arrest of two town councilors who ran local lotteries, suspension of three municipal police chiefs, and wholesale police transfers, the racket was still flourishing. [page 367]

wild, di ba.   as in unstoppable.   no wonder the dictator ferdinand marcos didn’t bother trying to fight it.   to the contrary:

After four years of martial rule, Marcos was confident enough to offend what his media adviser called “the finer sensibilities of the religious” by legalizing gambling. To carry out this major social reform, under Presidential Decree 1067-A of January 1977 Marcos established the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) to “operate clubs and casinos.” In deference to the country’s deep moral opposition to legal gambling, the president directed that half the gross earnings be spent on “priority infrastructure and socio-civic projects.” Under a string of authoritarian decrees, he then allowed this quasi-governmental corporation to issue casino contracts while exempting it from regular government audits, custom duties, and taxes…. [p 401]

Just as the first family monopolized high-roller casino gambling, so their police commanders syndicated the illegal, penny-ante jueteng lottery that thrived in the country’s slums. With the relentless centralization of police power, senior constabulary officers protected regional vice syndicates that soon superseded the long-established local crime bosses. The bandits, outlaws, pirates, rebels, and gunmen–all celebrated in the heroic scripts of local cultures–now gave way to entrepreneurs in vice and violence protected by the national police. Instead of a few bribes to the town mayor and his police chief, the new syndicates made substantial payments to “the many military and police intelligence units which proliferated, all of them wanting a cut.” Moreover the balance between police and syndicates shifted, with PC commanders rising from mere protectors to principals and the once powerful vice lords reduced to bagmen for the military. [p 402]

and, wow, in the time of president corazon aquino:

… her administration became the first to forge a direct link with provincial gambling syndicates, appropriating a share of illicit profits from jueteng lotteries to finance election campaigns and covert operations–a well-kept secret whose full implications for national politics would suface with dramatic effect a decade later. Ironically, it was Aquino’s restored democracy, despite all its idealism and avowed integrity, that first combined illegal gambling and presidential power. [p. 434]

Stripped of both the rewards and the restraints of authoritarian rule, senior constabulary officers sanctioned criminal enterprises. Across Luzon, jueteng syndicates operated with police and political protection and thus grew to an unprecedented size. . . . [p 445]

Three years after her term ended, President Aquino’s antigambling enforcer, Potenciano “Chito” Roque, appeared before Congress to confess his past corruption as an act of penance. Appointed to head the Task Force Anti-Gambling (TFAG) during Aquino’s first weeks in office, Roque made it an executive tool for taxing the jueteng racket, setting a “target monthly collection” of one million pesos from each illegal syndicate. Between June 1986 and October 1989, Roque and his four TFAG bagmen collected Php43 million from the top twenty-five jueteng bosses. When Pampanga’s leading jueteng promoter, Rodolfo “Bong” Pineda, wanted to extend his operations into neighboring Nueva Ecija Province in late 1988, he met with Roque and handed over his first monthly payment of a hundred thousand pesos, thus assuring himself police protection. By late 1987 the system was operating smoothly, with jueteng bosses paying Roque “religiously.” If any fell behind, he recalled, “I would order . . . . the jueteng operators’ joints raided even if the payment was only delayed for two or three days.” Jueteng, said one police superintendent, had been “consolidated into one big nationwide operation” coordinated from a penthouse suite at the Silahis International Hotel in downtown Manila.

Although Roque’s confession revealed a great deal about the collection of this illegal income, the disbursement of these funds was still shrouded in secrecy. Roque claimed that much of the money was used for countercoup activities, but he refused to name the top politician running this racket. The first hint of this mystery man’s identity was revealed during these same 1995 congressional hearings when the former governor of Sorsogon, Bonifacio Gillego, described how a “powerful congressman from Central Luzon at that time” had intervened to protect jueteng in his province. [p 447]

This political charade continued for another five years until the name of the shadowy “congressman from Central Luzon” was finally revealed during another jueteng controversy. In October 2000, a veteran Tarlac politician told the press that during Aquino’s presidency her brother, Congressman Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, had dominated the province’s jueteng racket and collected a “management fee” from illegal operators in the surrounding Central Luzon region. Like the political bosses of past generations, Peping allegedly used jueteng to finance the family’s political machine and shared its income with followers. During his term as municipal councilor from 1989 to 1992, this source, Gelacio Manalang, admitted receiving monthly payments of five thousand pesos from Peping’s operation and used the funds to meet the welfare needs of poor constituents. . . .

Ironically, the proliferation of jueteng under Aquino stoked popular pressure for reform, providing the administration with another means of milking the racket. In 1988 the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes launched the country’s first new legal lottery in over half a century, the Small Town Lottery, with the stated aim of undercutting the illegal jueteng business. Supervising the new game’s introduction was sweepstakes’ chair Fernando Carrascoso Jr., one of Peping’s most trusted Tarlac followers, who granted franchises to ten corporations that were largely fronts for the jueteng bosses who were already paying kickbacks to Roque’s TFAG. In striking contrast to the integrity of Pagcor’s reformed casino operations, the Small Town Lottery was soon riven with corruption, including rigged draws to minimize payouts, kickbacks to the police, and direct payments to local officials. Under these franchise agreements, about 30 percent of the lottery’s revenues, nearly Php18 billion in its first year, were divided between the police and local government officials. Moreover, the lottery’s ten franchise holders earned Php3.6 billion in its first year, providing them with ample capital to expand their illegal operations. After corruption scandals forced the lottery’s suspension in 1989, illegal jueteng again expanded to fill the void, by this time well rationalized, better capitalized, and more popular than ever. . . . [p 448]

In the closing months of her administration, President Aquino intervened personally to correct this dismal situation by ordering some last-hour reforms. Even these efforts were soon compromised by corruption, which was by now endemic. In 1991 NBI director Alfredo Lim, acting on the president’s direct orders, raided leading jueteng operators, including Bong Pineda of Pampanga. But all charges were later dismisseed. In January 1992 Aquino replaced Roque’s discredited TFAG with a new, untainted enforcement unit headed by Alberto “Ambet” Antonio under the Games and Amusements Board. But instead of attacing “bookie joints and other illegal forms of organized gambling” as ordered, Antonio soon allied himself with Luzon’s leading jueteng bosses and used these underworld contacts to establish his own syndicate. By 1995 congressional investigators would estimate jueteng colletions at a heft Php 18 billion annually and the bribes paid to police and politicans at Php6 billion. After five years of executive protection, jueteng syndicates had become so wealthy, powerful, and entrenched that they could now survive both a congressional probe and a frontal assault by the office of the president. [p 449]

The semiformal symbiosis of national police, politicians, and jueteng fostered under Aquino’s administration would persist long after she left office. From the estimated gross of Php18 billion in 1988, her second year in office, the proceeds from jueteng doubled to Php37 billion in 2000. Her successor Fidel Ramos would try, with limited success, to break this alliance between police and underworld. By purging senior police officials, exposing corruption in Congress, and prosecuting jueteng bosses, President Ramos would attack the entrenched syndicates, reducing their reach but ultimately failing to weaken their underlying resilience. [pp 450-451]

president fidel ramos only managed to reduce jueteng some by the end of his term:

…both press and legislature focused on jueteng gambling for the first time in nearly twenty years, discovering that this back-alley lottery had become a vast industry sustained by systemic police corruption. Arguing that legalization was the only long-term solution, the Ramos administration revived jai alai in 1995 and, through the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), introduced a new on-line Lotto a year later to compete with the illegal jueteng lottery, grossing an impressive Php1.5 billion in its first year of operation. But Lotto simply added to the gambler’s choices and failed, through its uncompetitive odds and poor marketing, to undercut jueteng’s phenomenal popularity with the poor.

As part of Ramos’ campaign against illegal gambling, the NBI conducted its own inquiry into jueteng, recommending in 1995 that corruption charges be brought against seven syndicate bosses, notably Rodolfo “Bong” PIneda of Pampanga. At first such police pressure seemed to restrain jueteng operations. But instead of eliminating the racket, PNP operations simply shifted control down the criminal hierarchy by breaking the near monopoly on police protection that regional bosses such as Pineda had earlier enjoyed under President Aquino. In Pineda’s home province of Pampanga,for example, independent municipal syndicates emerged briefly while he was preoccupied with fighting bribery charges before the courts. Then, as the presidential campaign got under way in early 1997, PNP intelligence reported that the racket was reviving “to raise campaign funds for candidates seeking the presidency and other national positions in 1998.” Despite these pending criminal charges, Pineda was soon operating “full blast” through local operators acting as “dummies.” As Ramos’s term entered its last months in mid-1998, Pineda finally extricated himself from the gambling charges and forged close ties to his successor, Joseph Estrada. After the new administration took office, Pineda was once again running Central Luzon’s jueteng racket from behind the twenty-foot walls of his fortress home in Lubao, Pampanga.

president joseph estrada wanted to legalize jueteng but was met with moral outrage and so he backed off, saying “gambling is not my priority.” [p 476]   hmm, sounds familiar, lol

Only weeks after his inauguration in July 1998, the president summoned a rogue’s gallery of gamblers to his private residence at Polk Street in the Manila suburb of San Juan: masiao operator Charlie “Atong” Ang, Central Luzon jueteng boss Rodolfo “Bong” Pineda, and northern Luzon jueteng promoter Luis “Chavit” Singson, who was also the governor of Ilocos Sur. At this secret summit the president decided that his gambling buddy Charlie Ang would “set up the network” of regional racketeers and jueteng boss Bong Pineda would deliver the president’s 3 percent cut to Chavit so it would not be “obvious.” When Charlie Ang lost Estrada’s confidence by skimming executive kickbacks from a tobacco tax scam several months later, Estrada replaced him with Chavit Singson, who worked effectively with Luzon’s “gambling lords” for the next two years, assigning each a fixed territory to avoid conflict and collecting the president’s cut. Every month from November 1998 to August 2000, these underworld operators paid Chavit the president’s share, which totaled some Php35 million. And every two weeks Chavit made regular cash deliveries to the president. During these fifteen months Chavit collected a total of Php545.2 million –Php414.3 million paid directly to Estrada, Php123 million invested for him in the Fontana Casino at Clark Field, and the balance doled out to presidential kin. . . . [pp 477-478]

Playing on rising opposition to jueteng, Estrada’s closest allies renewed their pressure for legal alternatives. Appealing to the president’s avarice, rival supplicants promised him an even greater income, each tugging at personal ties to promote his own scheme as the most lucrative lottery. Charlie Ang promoted a jueteng look-alike branded “Bingo 2-Ball,” legalized by a Pagcor license, that promised Estrada Php70 million a day. [p479] . . . In June 2000 Pagcor skirted its own regulations to issue a license for Charlie Ang’s Bingo 2-Ball because, as its chair Alice Reyes explained, “it had the endorsement of the Office of the President.” . . . . Settng aside its usual propriety, Pagcor hired palace crony and crime boss Charlie Ang as its official Bingo 2-Ball “consultant.” Not only did the government gaming board pay him an exorbitant fee of five hundred thousand pesos (eleven thousand dollars) per day, but it gave him unchecked authority over the new lottery, making it, in effect, a legal front for reorganization of the old jueteng racket. Armed with this broad authority, Ang dictated the terms for the new Bingo 2-Ball franchises: 2 percent for the PNP, 13 percent for cobradores, 23 percent for Pagcor, and a hefty 62 percent for his own contractors. Significantly, it was Ang, not Pagcor, who awarded the local franchises, and he did it in ways designed to destroy his rivals among Luzon’s reigning jueteng lords, Chavit Singson and Bong Pineda. . . . Adding insult to injury, Charlie Ang awarded the bingo contract for the Ilocos region to Eric Singson, Governor Chavit Singson’s distant cousin, “mortal enemy,” and rival gubernatorial candidate. “I made it know to the President,” Chavit recalled, “that I felt bad when Atong Ang gave franchises for the Bingo 2-Ball to my political rivals. I told them to stop the Bingo 2-Ball operation or I would expose them.” [pp 480-481]

and expose them he did.   the rest is edsa dos history.   as for president gloria macapagal arroyo, no less than her husband miguel was accused of receiving protection money from jueteng lords.

Allegations that the the “first gentleman” had collected bribes from illegal jueteng syndicates to fund his wife’s presidential campaign had plunged the country yet again into a protracted crisis of rumored coups, mass demonstrations, and attempted impeachment. At first he denied the charges. But an opposition senator exposed secret bank accounts under the pseudonym “Pidal,” coincidentally and convincingly the middle name of Mike Arroyo’s grandfather. Only two days after the historic apology {for “Hello, Garci”}, the president felt compelled to announce that her husband would be going abroad for an indefinite period of political exile. [p498]

and now we have another aquino as president.   on july 11 the big news was of noynoy ordering robredo to stop jueteng.

Robredo said on Sunday that the campaign to stamp out jueteng would be done nationwide. He was quoted as saying on Saturday that President Benigno Aquino III “issued a very clear directive to stop jueteng.”

but the next day, july 12, stopping jueteng was a low priority bigla.

Mr. Aquino Monday said the issue of what to do with the multibillion-peso underground industry—a source of corruption over the years—was not atop his list of priorities.

“That’s a low priority for me,” he told reporters after a military command conference in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

Robredo himself Monday said that the main focus of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) would be the empowerment of local governments.

Aquino noted that the Philippine National Police, the primary agency tasked with stamping out illegal gambling, had more important things to do such as helping in the campaign to end extrajudicial killings.

lol.   what happened kaya on sunday?   what, who, changed his tune re jueteng?   your guess — your bet — is as good as mine.

read too:  Is jueteng so bad?
Ang Pagiging Ilegal ng Jueteng: Isang Double Standard ng lipunan?
Jueteng is Embedded in Local Culture
Jueteng by Edgardo J. Angara
Jueteng is not the enemy
Why Should We Legalize Jueteng?
Sugal gawing legal


  1. buko nut & halo-halo

    the only “tinik” to legalizing the jueteng is the hypocrite “Roman Catholic church” which is receiving millions of payola in the name of charity from the elite gambling institution “PAGCOR”. WHEN AND HOW WILL THIS DOUBLE STANDARD OF MORALITY AGAINST THE POOR BE CONQUERED SPECIALLY WHEN GOVT LAWS AND POLICY ARE PASSED AND IMPLEMENTED.

  2. UP nn grad

    What, indeed, can explain why between last week and this week, jueteng elimination suddenly changed from “super-important to Presi-Noy” to “lower in importance”?

  3. jojie umali-riyadh

    In the sleepy town of Unisan,Queson, circa 1950’s, I recall my maternal grandma,Lola Rosa, calling the kobrador to play jueteng esp. on our birthdays,fiesta and even Easter Sunday. I once questioned her why she still wants to win when we have enogh properties left by our maternal grandpa,LoLo Vicente, who acquired vast tract of lands when he was the political lieutenant and business partner of then Pres. Quezon. her answer “its my pastime and I want to help the poor” in Tagalog. I didnt under this socialist statement but I accepted as it was I believe now the social forces behind the underground economy.

  4. GabbyD

    i dont get it:

    the reason he downplayed jueteng is that there are urgent issues that need to attended to: human rights violations, media killings, peace and order, disaster assistance mititgation, etc…

    Pnoy CANT WIN.

    if he says, solve juenteng, people say, “paano ang mga human rights victims!”

    if he says “lets solve these urgent problems first”, people will say “look, he flipped flopped!”

    cant it be possible for the admin to have a list of things to do, and then be FREE to allocate resources based on their relative urgency?

    isnt this the OBVIOUS thing to do? dont we live this way ourselves? why criticize pnoy for stuff that is obvious and good?

  5. GabbyD

    thats the thing — pnoy didnt play it up.

    sequence of events you yourself outlined:
    1) robredo says: “juenteng is part of the agenda/stop jueteng” (i.e. marching orders)

    2) pnoy says: “its not the top priority” because of the stuff i mentioned…

    there is no playing up. thats whats so confusing to me!

    from the sequence, 2 things are clear: jueteng is on the agenda, but its not the priority.

    that is so easy to understand!

    yun lang. di ba simple lang? bakit may flipflopping?

  6. GabbyD

    just to follow the argument:

    mas may simpatya ako kung sabi ni robredo: “the primary objection of dilg is to stop jueteng”, then the next day “we changed our minds, extra-judicial killings na”.

    but the fact is “marching orders” does not mean primary objection.

  7. jojie umali-riyadh

    If you editorialize the headline news, its “flipflopping”. but as a management strategy it is “prioritizing” or “downgrading/switching” as long as it is included in the political agenda or objective.

  8. GabbyD


    i like reading between the lines. the problem is that, its so subjective. if you dont like the person, you tend to “read” something negative. if u like him, then positive — sabi nga ni jojie “editorializing”

  9. Hey Stuart,I am doing some legal research on Jueteng. Do you know where I ccan borrow a copy of the book POLICING AMERICA’S EMPIRE: The United States, The Phlippines, and The Rise of the Surveillance State [2009 University of Wisconsin Press] Thanks