Pototan: Iloilo’s ‘jueteng’ capital

Shortly after the present administration at the Iloilo capitol assumed power on June 30, there were stirrings in the town of Pototan, Iloilo as at least three “jueteng”, which is known locally as “daily double”, operators began to set up shop and bring the illegal numbers game back in business in the province. “Daily double” was absent, except for occasional guerilla-type operations, during the nine years of the Tupas administration, and the changing of the guard at the Iloilo capitol was a signal that the red carpet was now being laid out. Where Tupas strictly barred the illegal numbers game, there was now explicit consent from the capitol.

“Jueteng” has once again captured the headlines after retired Lingayen archbishop Oscar Cruz accused unnamed officials in the Aquino administration as receiving “payola” from operators. The amounts are not peanuts — two officials get no less than P2 million a month, Cruz said.

It’s not a secret that “jueteng” is an almost inexhaustible treasure vault of illicit cash. The “jueteng lords,” as the operators of the illegal numbers game are known, raked in hundreds of millions of pesos in earnings every year. That’s the reason in the province of Pampanga, “jueteng” has achieved complete domination of local politics. Fr. Ed Panlilio’s reform-oriented governorship was no match for the oodles of money given out by his rival, Lilia Pineda, who snatched the position from him after just one term. Lilia is the wife of “jueteng” lord Bong Pineda. Hence, politicians found it hard to resist “jueteng”, and it was only in Iloilo province where its promise of easy money wasn’t as welcome during the time of Tupas.

From our personal experience, I can attest that “jueteng” can’t flourish unless there is explicit approval from the capitol. The fact that it has now found its way back into the province, and even sits arrogantly in Pototan, is prima facie evidence that “jueteng” money is greasing hands in the governor’s office. Add to this the designation of P/Senior Supt. Gil Lebin as Iloilo provincial director upon express request of Defensor. Lebin was assigned in Pampanga for quite a while when Mikey Arroyo was congressman in that province. Add one plus one, and you can understand how Lebin would fit into the formula for making Iloilo the new frontier for “jueteng”. Lebin, by the way, is a native son of Pototan, Iloilo.

Strike One?

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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