Philippines President, Rodrigo Duterte (pictured), has reportedly conceded something of a defeat in his long-running campaign against illegal gambling by revealing that he can now only encourage people not to engage in illicit games such as hantak and jueteng.
According to a report from The Manila Times newspaper, Duterte made the admission as part of a speech delivered during a Saturday meeting of his ruling PDP-Laban political party. The Philippines is holding its latest round of Congressional elections today and it is thought that the 74-year-old President’s new stance on illegal gambling has been designed to help reassure his largely working-class supporter base.
“That gambling, I will not meddle with it anymore, just do not enter. I cannot control it really. I will let you in but not extortion or drugs.”
He was elected as the 16th President of the Philippines in 2016 on a campaign that included a promise to stamp out all illegal forms of gambling regardless of whether these were being offered in-person or online. He subsequently issued Executive Order 13 to reorganize and restructure government agencies responsible for tackling illicit gambling before last year instituting a moratorium on the building of any new casinos outside of Manila’s 1,977-acre Entertainment City gaming zone.
However, The Manila Times reported that the controversial President later detailed that he would not be including jueteng in his anti-gambling campaign because the popular numbers game was allowing some poorer members of society to earn a living. The newspaper explained that Duterte has now ostensibly added the coin-based hantak game to the list of activities he will not be seeking to stamp out as it, too, is largely enjoyed by those from the lower socio-economic echelons of Filipino society.
The President stated…
“That will be up to you. I am not trying to encourage you. I cannot stop it anyway and I know I am lacking.”