Duterte: Fight illegal drugs first, and then gambling

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — President Rodrigo Duterte said efforts to shut down illegal and online gambling will have to give way temporarily to the government’s war on drugs.

Duterte said law enforcers would be overstretched if they concentrate on both targets at the same time.

Kaya nga hindi ako bumira sa gambling ngayon. Why? Because ma-off focus ang lahat, pati pulis,” Duterte told his San Beda college batch mates in Malacanang late Sunday.

[Translation: That’s why I am not hitting gambling now. Why? Because everyone, including the police, will be off-focused.]

He said he will eventually have to dismantle the networks used IN illegal gambling because they could easily be repurposed to support the illegal drug trade.

“'Yung mga gambling network, pagka nag-bakante ‘yan, papasok ang droga. Nandiyan na ‘yung … the structure.”

[Translation: Those gambling networks, once they becomes vacant, the drugs will come in. They already have … the structure.]

In the Philippines, jueteng, a numbers game, is the most popular form of illegal gambling that officials for generations have failed to dismantle.

Jueteng operators employ a network of collectors who comb entire neighborhoods to seek bettors who chose two-number combinations from 1 to 37 with the promise of large winnings for small wagers. Operators also bribe police and local officials to give them protection to allow them to operate freely in towns and provinces throughout the country.

Duterte has also ordered PAGCOR chief Andrea Bautista to cancel existing online gambling permits.

The President said the government is unable to collect taxes from online gambling operations which he believes many members of the elite are involved in.

“There is no way of knowing how to collect taxes on bets outside of the Philippines. Online e [It’s online]. So this has to stop.”