MANILA, Dec. 14, 2012— Two Catholic bishops fear for the safety of two whistleblowers who tagged Pangasinan Gov. Armando Espino as the operator of ‘jueteng’, an illegal numbers game, in the province.
Bugallon Mayor Ricardo Orduna and Brgy. Chairman Fernando Alimagno claimed that the governor have raked in P120 million annually from its operations of the underground lottery.
Retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz, a known anti-jueteng crusader, cited experience that in the past they have already lost two witnesses in their campaign.
“Pagmasdan po nyong mabuti ang mga mukha ng dalawa nating kababayang ito na maaring po na ang kanilang mga buhay ay hindi magtagal,” Cruz said in a press conference in Camp Crame on Friday.
The bishop said that people behind or involved in jueteng are not joking and have resorted in the past silencing people that have gone against or exposed the intricacies of the multimillion numbers racket.
“Maingat na maingat ako sa mga pagsabi ng mga whistleblowers sapagkat meron nang dalawa sa aming mga kasama ang pinatay at hinahangaan ko sila sa kanilang paglabas at panalangin na sana’y patnubayan sila,” he said.
Cruz revealed he has another witness, a certain “PO3”, who can attest to the proliferation of illegal gambling operations in the country under the Aquino administration.
Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez said, on his part, said he is hoping that the government will conduct an investigation into the alleged involvement of Espino in jueteng.
Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II asked the leadership of the Philippine National Police to provide adequate security coverages for the two whistleblowers.
“Nagagalak kami sa nangyayaring ito at ang simbahan ay handang tumulong para sa pagsugpo ng jueteng,” Iñiguez said.
The outgoing PNP chief, Director General Nicanor Bartolome said that the campaign against illegal gambling particularly jueteng has been a personal crusade for him in his stint in PNP.
“We are giving you assurance that we will give them the necessary protection and they need the proper security for the courage to come out in the open and expose what they know,” Bartolome said. (AHV/CBCPNews)