Philippine Daily Inquirer

IN THEKNOW

- Inquirer Research

“JUETENG,” an illegal numbers game played by many Filipinos, relies heavily on a large number of bettors with no limit on the amount of bets.

It is said that the Spanish colonizers introduced the game in the 1800s and was controlled bymigrant Chinese in the 1900s until the locals took over.

To play jueteng, a bettor picks two digits between the numbers 1 and 37. For one’s bet to win, the numbers should be drawn consecutiv­ely. In 2005, a bet of P1 can give a return of P800.

Variations of the game include “tumbok” and “sahod” (betting on the order of the numbers drawn), “pompiang” (betting on the same number), “casas” (betting on three numbers) and “deretsa” (betting on one number and any number equal to or lower than one’s chosen number).

Draws make use of parapherna­lia similar to those used in the game of bingo, although sometimes, the winning combinatio­ns are pro- vided by the jueteng nanciers.

Major players

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The major players involved in jueteng are the banker (also the capitalist or financier), the operator or maintainer, the checkers or watchers, and the accountant­s.

A “cabo” operates one or many cells of a jueteng syndicate in a given area. He looks after the bets collected by “cobradors” and passes the winnings back to them for distributi­on.

An operator oversees a bigger area composed of different cells. Hemakes sure that the interests of the banker, who finances the operations of the syndicate, are always protected.

The cabo and the operator each get 10 to 15 percent of the gross collection­s and winnings. Another 30 percent is set aside for the police and other public officials as “protection­money.”

Even Presidents

Allegation­s of involvemen­t in jueteng operations have hounded even the highest leaders of the land.

In the plunder case against ousted President Joseph Estrada in 2001, one of the four charges involved his acceptance of protection money from jueteng.

On Sept. 12, 2007, the Sandiganba­yan convicted Estrada of plunder and ordered the forfeiture to the government of cash representi­ng jueteng payoffs amounting to P545.29 million, among others.

In May 2005, Wilfredo Cimanis Mayor, a confessed jueteng operator, testified at a Senate hearing that then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s son, then Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, two other congressme­n and a former lawmaker used to send bagmen to collect gambling payoffs from him.

Mayor said he had given Mikey Arroyo’s alleged bagman, Arturo Naguit, a former vice mayor of Minalin, Pampanga, P600,000 a month as protection­money.

Mikey Arroyo denied the accusation.

Mayor was killed in an ambush in Pasay City in February.

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