What is Jueteng?
Jueteng is a numbers game played in the Philippines that is surrounded by controversy because despite its illegal status, it is widely played in the country. Jueteng comes from the Chinese words ‘hue’ meaning flower and ‘teng’ meaning bet. It is played by Filipinos of all classes, and operated through an elaborate network of agents and gambling lords.
In Jueteng, 2 sets of balls numbered 1 to 37 are combined and then two numbers are drawn. Whoever has the winning combination wins, and gets a payout of 1:800. In a country where poverty is rampant, many rely on gambling for a quick buck, especially since the minimum bet on Jueteng is virtually close to nothing that everyone can afford to place a bet. In a household, a jueteng agent or collector can even encourage school age kids to place a wager.
Many politicians and police are under the jueteng payola, or jueteng payoff. These are payment made to those in authority in order to turn a blind eye on jueteng. Former President Joseph Estrada was ousted because of the jueteng scandal, as exposed by Governor Chavit Singson who is a jueteng proponent himself, over a squabble on jueteng payoff. The next president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is also believed to have received millions in jueteng money.
Among those also suspected on the jueteng payee list are Local Undersecretary Rico E. Puno, and Philippine National Police Director General Jesus Versoza. Massive corruption and shameless misuse of power are among the reasons why the Philippines is considered one of the most corrupt countries in the world, coupled with being still a generally poor nation.