Hardly has the dust settled on the Manila hostage crisis, when we find top police and civilian officials deeply embroiled again in another controversy: this time in their various roles in illegal gambling better known hereabouts as jueteng.
Outright denials of any involvement in jueteng came from some of the personalities listed by Archbishop Oscar Cruz. While the good Archbishop wanted the personalities spared from negative publicity by asking the Senate committee conducting the hearing to allow him to submit his list in an executive session, the senators would have none of such kind of face-saving and proceeded instead to have the names read by one of their members as soon as Bishop Cruz submitted his list.
Sen. Miriam Santiago would even complete the expose by providing details of the amount involved and the sharing of the loot, so to speak, among top government officials.
This is not the first time that the Senate has conducted a public hearing on this illegal numbers game. A few years ago they did the same thing, and nothing much really happened except for the eventual murder of one of the whistle-blower, Boy Pastor. One of the whistle-blower in that previous hearing, Sandra Cam, has expressed hesitation in giving further testimony for fear of her life as the government does not really have a security-tight witness protection program.
So, is the Senate just into one of its limelight-grabbing public hearing in aid of legislation where nothing really much can be expected except for the free publicity of the senators involved in the hearing?
Is this anti-jueteng campaign yet another one of those ningas-cogon campaign that the government goes into from time to time to distract the public from some other pressing public concern, only to be given the Mona Lisa treatment after another public scandal or issue breaks out into the open?
In other words this is not the first time that we have witnessed this kind of spectacle, and if we are to go by the track record of past public hearings and media scrutiny, not much really happens except when you are a President Erap who still dips his fingers in the jueteng game instead of just leaving it to his subalterns. Then you get impeached.
Otherwise, it is just another Senate show and soon blows over.
Closer to home, Mayor Mauricio Domogan who was implicated because his name appears in Bishop Cruz’s list denies flat out any involvement at all. He even challenges the good bishop to come up with evidence to prove his allegations. But the bishop claims that involvement in this illegal gambling does not come with some paper trail that will serve as evidence. The only evidence available is the testimony of those who have seen with their own eyes the involvement of those named in the list.
In short, Bishop Cruz and his sources have eyewitnesses. But are they willing to come out and testify? And what is the probative value of their testimonies before the courts?
In other words, these allegations of involvement in jueteng are not shut and air-tight cases that would mean the automatic conviction in court of those named in any list.
But there is a truism in jueteng, according to insiders. The game cannot thrive in any place without the knowledge of and tacit permission of the police and top political honchos in the locality. In return, they always get a piece of the action in terms of payola percentage. And this goes true from the lowest to the highest powers that be so that everyone is supposedly happy.
So, most probably what is being played out now before our eyes is some kind of a rigodon or replacement process of the financiers and other big players in jueteng and other illegal games because there is now a new administration which might have its own preferred big players and financiers. Remember that hundreds of millions of pesos are at stake in this game monthly, and that could spell the difference between victory and defeat, come election time.
That explains why some of PNoy’s big financiers are making their secretive appearance in this controversial but lucrative game. It all boils down to power and money, its expenditure and recovery. And Bishop Cruz is just another whistle-blower. # nordis.net