Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has admitted he can no longer “control” gambling in the Southeast Asian nation and it looks like he will let individuals decide for themselves about taking part in popular forms of gaming.
“I cannot stop it anyway and I know I am lacking,” the Philippines leader told a rally supporting the PDP–Laban political party in Pasig City on Saturday, just hours before the national mid-term election began on Monday.
“I will not meddle with it anymore,” he told supporters. But he warned he will not allow illegal “extortion or drugs” to take place, according to a report from the Manila Times.
Earlier in his administration, Duterte had made it a priority to scrutinize “illegal” online or in-person gaming. But this weekend’s speech appears to be his clearest statement so far to signal his government will take a more hands-off policy.
He specifically mentioned two well-known games played in the Philippines, especially by locals. They are jueteng — a numbers game — and hantak — where gamblers bet on whether three coins will be heads up or down after being flipped in the air.
That will be up to you. I am not trying to encourage you… I cannot stop it anyway and I know I am lacking,” Duterte was quoted by the newspaper.
The statements may be an attempt to boost his government’s popularity with mainstream voters. Senate and House seats are being decided in the election.
Duterte’s spot is not up for grabs — because he is in the middle of his current six-year term. But he obviously would like to get more political allies in office.
After gaining power in 2016, Duterte described gambling as a nasty vice that needed to be controlled and investigated by the national government — much like the trade in illegal drugs.