Thursday, May 12, 2005


Interior and Local Government Secretary Angelo Reyes reiterated his order yesterday to the Philippine National Police (PNP) to sustain its campaign against jueteng financiers and protectors.

Reyes emphasized to PNP chief Director General Arturo Lomibao the government’s policy on the illegal numbers game.

The government policy is clear: "No" to the legalization of jueteng," he said.

Reyes issued the directive to Lomibao to go after jueteng lords and their supposed protectors in the government and the police force, notwithstanding their influence and positions in government.

I've directed General Lomibao to order all police regional police directors to launch a sustained campaign against jueteng and other forms of illegal gambling nationwide," he said.

The PNP was also ordered to reinforce its so-called three-strike policy in the anti-jueteng campaign.

Under the scheme, commanders who have jurisdiction over areas that have been raided three times for jueteng and illegal gambling activities would be relieved.

The "three-strike" scheme had been implemented in the past but failed to neutralize jueteng operations in the countryside. </P> <P>It led to the mass removal of a number of police officials, but hardly made a dent in the flourishing illegal numbers game.

There were a number of other proposals, foremost among them a move to legalize jueteng operations.

Opposition Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile earlier declared the jueteng problem could be easily licked by simply legalizing it.

Proponents of legalization say it would raise government revenues while driving out illegal competitors.

But Malacañang has dismissed the proposal to legalize jueteng, saying this would contribute to a culture of gambling or relying on luck, instead of hard work. </P> <P>The Palace has urged local governments and non-government organizations (NGOs) to come up with solutions such as alternative livelihood programs to wean people away from jueteng operators as a way of earning money.

Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said the government recognizes the fight against jueteng is not purely a police matter but also has significant socio-economic aspects.

Bunye said law enforcement agencies and local government units are cracking down on all jueteng operations while the courts are expected to rule expeditiously on cases filed against illegal gambling lords. </P> <P>"However, LGUs and NGOs should team up in providing alternative legitimate livelihood to the poor sector that might be displaced by the (anti-jueteng) operations," Bunye said.

The fight against jueteng will require total coordinated effort," he said. </P> <P>The operation of jueteng is a multimillion-peso underground gambling industry that can begin with a lowly P1 bet. </P> <P>The bettors are usually those who earn just enough to feed a family daily but at the other end of the scale are the operators who rake in millions. </P> <P>A large portion of operators’ profits are widely believed to go to local officials and law enforcers who turn a blind eye. </P> <P>Many local officials admit jueteng money allows them to provide immediate livelihood and financial assistance to their poor constituents. </P> <P>Gambling money is also known to finance much-needed police and military operations in the countryside in the absence of available allocations from the national government.

Jueteng has been recognized as a fact of life in the countryside, particularly in depressed areas where it is considered by many to be a means of livelihood. </P> <P>Bunye said on Friday that the legalization of jueteng would only aggravate the country’s social problems and "abet a culture of luck rather than a culture of industry."

Considering that Mrs. Arroyo’s predecessor, Joseph Estrada, was ousted over allegations that he had personally benefited from jueteng operations, Bunye said its legalization would never occur under the current administration. </P> <P>He said Filipinos should learn to shun vice and instead "focus on improving their lives through hard work and honest enterprise." </P> <P>Malacañang earlier welcomed moves by Congress to probe the alleged resurgence of jueteng operations in several provinces, but warned that those "accusing others of having anything to do with this illegal operation must come up with hard facts and solid evidence."

The controversy over jueteng was apparently triggered by the exposé aired by Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz, the chairman of the group "Krusada ng Bayan Laban sa Jueteng."

Cruz submitted before lawmakers last week a list of prominent personalities supposedly involved in jueteng operations.

No comments: