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Filipino prelate charges other bishops take bribes from illegal gambling ventures

CWN - September 15, 2010

A Catholic prelate who has led a public campaign against illegal gambling has charged that 8 Catholic bishops received payoffs from the gambling bosses.

Archbishop Oscar Cruz, the former head of the Lingayen-Dagupan archdiocese, had earlier charged that government officials were receiving payoffs from the operators of the illegal jueteng games. He raised the stakes by claiming that bishops were involved as well.

Archbishop Cruz—who retired last year from his post at the head of the Lingayen-Dagupan archdiocese—has been at the forefront of a public movement for a crackdown on the jueteng rackets. He and other prelates have charged that current laws restricting gambling are not being enforced, likely because of payoffs to law-enforcement officials. Accusations of corruption involving jueteng dogged the country’s former government.

The current government, led by President Benigno Aquino, has urged Archbishop Cruz to identify the figures who are accepting bribes. A spokesman for Aquino said that the archbishop could speak to the president in confidence, acknowledging that anyone who interferes with the jueteng rackets could face violent reprisals.

The archbishop said that he did not intend to reveal the identity of the guilty bishops. He said that because he is retired, he is no longer responsible for discipline within the episcopal conference. But he said, “they know who they are.” But he is under pressure to disclose the names of the offending bishops, with one newspaper editorial arguing that cooperation between the new government and the crusading archbishop could offer the "best chance" to break the power of the jueteng rackets.

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