The Rise and Fall of Jueteng in the Philippines


One vice has thrived for decades in the labyrinth of Philippine politics, casting a dark shadow on the nation’s moral fabric—the clandestine and controversial game of Jueteng. A numbers game that has ensnared both the rich and the poor, Jueteng has been a pervasive force fueled by a complex web of corruption, poverty, and political maneuvering. This article delves into the rise and eventual fall of Jueteng, exposing the underbelly of a gambling phenomenon that has held the Philippines in its grip for far too long.

The Birth of Jueteng

Jueteng, a corruption of the Filipino words “Hueteng” or “Ju-eteng,” traces its roots back to the Chinese practice of counting money. It found its way into Philippine culture during the Spanish colonial era, evolving into an illicit numbers game that promised instant riches to those willing to take the risk. The game involves placing a stake on a combination of two numbers with varying odds and payouts.

Initially confined to the fringes of society, Jueteng gradually seeped into mainstream culture, becoming a lucrative underground enterprise, beating the combined efforts of sports betting philippines and online casinos. As poverty tightened its grip on the nation, Jueteng emerged as a glimmer of hope for many desperate individuals seeking a way out of financial despair.

The Rise of Jueteng Lords

As Jueteng expanded its reach, a new breed of entrepreneurs emerged—the Jueteng lords. These shadowy figures operated behind the scenes, orchestrating a complex network of collectors, runners, and financiers to ensure the smooth operation of their illicit empire. With political connections and protection from law enforcement, these lords amassed immense wealth while their impoverished patrons clung to the fleeting dream of hitting the jackpot.

Corruption and Political Entanglements

The clandestine nature of Jueteng made it an ideal breeding ground for corruption. As the game flourished, greater than that of online casino in the philippines, it entwined itself with the political landscape of the Philippines. Politicians at the local and national levels became complicit in the Jueteng trade, either turning a blind eye or actively participating in its operations.

Election campaigns were often funded by Jueteng money, creating a web of indebtedness between politicians and the lords who financed their rise to power. This unholy alliance further entrenched Jueteng in the fabric of Philippine politics, making its eradication daunting.

Crusades Against Jueteng

Despite its deep-seated roots, Jueteng faced intermittent challenges from various quarters. Civic groups, religious leaders, and concerned citizens launched crusades against the game, decrying its social and moral implications. However, these efforts often proved futile in the face of deeply entrenched interests and the allure of quick riches.

One of the most notable anti-Jueteng advocates was the late Archbishop Oscar Cruz, who tirelessly campaigned against the game and its enablers. His efforts, though valiant, encountered formidable resistance from those who benefited from the status quo.

The Fall of Jueteng

The turning point in the battle against Jueteng came with the ascendancy of President Benigno Aquino III in 2010. Aquino, who ran on an anti-corruption platform, prioritized dismantling the Jueteng apparatus that had flourished under previous administrations.

One of Aquino’s first moves was to appoint a fearless crusader, then Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, to lead the fight against Jueteng. Robredo, known for his integrity and commitment to good governance, spearheaded efforts to dismantle the Jueteng infrastructure.

Robredo’s initiatives included the creation of an anti-Jueteng task force composed of dedicated law enforcement officers and investigators. The task force targeted not only the foot soldiers of Jueteng but also the powerful lords and their political protectors.

The fall of Jueteng was not without its challenges. The powerful forces that had thrived in the game resisted fiercely, using their political influence to undermine Robredo’s efforts. Tragically, Secretary Robredo’s untimely death in a plane crash in 2012 dealt a significant blow to the anti-Jueteng campaign.

Despite this setback, the momentum against Jueteng continued. The issue gained traction in mainstream media, exposing the extent of its infiltration into the highest echelons of government. The public outcry that ensued added pressure on politicians to distance themselves from the game, further weakening the Jueteng network.

Legalizing and Regulating Gambling

Recognizing the futility of eradicating gambling entirely, the Philippines shifted its strategy towards legalizing and regulating the industry. In 2016, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) was given the mandate to oversee and regulate all forms of gambling in the country.

This shift allowed the government to monitor and control gambling activities, ensuring transparency and accountability. While traditional Jueteng remains illegal, the move towards a regulated gambling industry aimed to channel the energies and revenues associated with gambling into legitimate and taxable channels.


The fall of Jueteng represents a triumph of good governance over deeply entrenched corruption. The battle against this illicit numbers game required the courage of individuals like Jesse Robredo, who stood against powerful interests in the pursuit of justice. While the scars of Jueteng linger, the Philippines’ shift towards legalizing and regulating gambling is a step in the right direction.

The story of Jueteng serves as a cautionary tale about the interplay between poverty, corruption, and political expediency. As the Philippines continues its journey towards a more just and transparent society, the lessons learned from the rise and fall of Jueteng should serve as a reminder of the enduring need for vigilance against the forces that seek to exploit the vulnerable for personal gain.


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