Philippine Archbishop Intensifies Battle Against Illegal Gambling

Aims at Jueteng — and Shrugs Off Death Threats

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MANILA, Philippines, MARCH 3, 2003 ( A former president of the Philippine bishops’ conference is intensifying his battle against illegal gambling.

Together with prominent members of Philippine society and the Church, Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan founded the Country Crusade Against Jueteng, an illegal game popular with the poor, Misna reports.

In a press conference today, Archbishop Cruz announced one of the crusade’s major activities. On April 6, awards will be bestowed on government officials who oppose the illegal game in their towns and provinces.

The awards will be rescinded, however, if the selection committee finds that the officials are later involved with jueteng in their area.

Jueteng caused the 2000 downfall of then President Joseph Estrada, who was accused of receiving huge amounts of money from the game.

Only 15% of the collected bets are given as prizes, while 85% is pocketed by jueteng operators who, in turn, pay government officials for protection. Jose Lina, secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government, admits that «jueteng continues» despite numerous anti-gambling groups.

Archbishop Cruz has received death threats since he began the crusade. More than once, he has been offered security by friends but simply turned it down. «I am not worth a bullet,» he said.

The crusade, which he heads, has come out with the «Catechism on Gambling.» It explains why jueteng is morally evil.

Among other things, «hard-earned money destined to sustain life and to promote living is wasted, instead, in gambling.»

Moreover, «little and continuous betting progressively amounts to a big amount of money lost not only to the bettor[s] but also to their families, to the extent that the loss of much-needed funds causes bitter domestic quarrels if not actual broken families.»

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