Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada says he’s planning on cracking down on virtually all forms of illegal gambling in the Philippine city, and that police who refuse to help with the push will find themselves out of a job. Estrada made the comments during a recent news interview.
“We will immediately relieve those officers who are not able to stop illegal gambling in their respective jurisdictions,” Estrada said at a news conference at the headquarters of the Manila Police District.
One Form of Gambling OK Though
During his comments, Estrada – a former president of the Philippines – mentioned a variety of different types of gambling that he’d like to root out of the city, including slot machines and betting on basketball. However, one particularly popular form of illegal gambling was left out of the crackdown: a numbers game known as jueteng.
The game of jueteng is essentially a simple lottery. A bettor can purchase a ticket for as little as a peso ($0.02) or less, and requires the player to pick two digits in the range of 1 to 37. If the player matches their two numbers to the winners, they will win a prize.
Estrada said that he plans on allowing the game to continue due to its widespread nature and the seemingly important role it plays in the local economy. According to a study by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, about 163,000 Filipinos make their living through the operation of jueteng.
“What’s the alternative?” asked Estrada. “What will people live on if you stop it?”
Police Incentives Offered
While the target of the new policy was ostensibly illegal gambling, the move by Estrada has as much to do with local police as it does with gambling rings. According to MPD chief of staff Gilbert Cruz, illegal gambling raids would be conducted by the department going forward. Should illegal gambling be found in a particular area of the city, the director of the city’s police department has the authority to immediately relieve station commanders who oversee that area.
That new responsibility and pressure does come with an incentive from the mayor. Estrada announced that the city will be reinstating a monthly allowance given to policemen, which means each officer could receive an extra P1,000 ($23) a month in pay – a figure that could rise to P2,500 ($57) in a few months.
Estrada has a past with the game of jueteng. In 2007, he was convicted of plunder for having accepted approximately P545 million ($12.5 million) in kickbacks from operators of the game – a crime he was pardoned for a month later by then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.