Jueteng to persist, even with Loterya ng Bayan, if cops allow it to — operatorBy Maricar Cinco
Inquirer Southern Luzon
SAN PEDRO, Laguna, Philippines — An operator of the Small Town Lottery (STL) expressed misgivings about the government’s plan to introduce the Loterya ng Bayan in place of the STL in stamping out the illegal numbers game, jueteng.
“Call it whatever, it’s impossible to eradicate illegal gambling as long as the police consent to the illegal operations,” the operator said.
The operator, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal from those benefiting from jueteng, said the operators knew of the new gambling scheme from the Palace in preparation for the expiration of the STL contracts in 2014. He said based on the discussions in their previous meetings, the government would like to try out a new scheme in collecting its share from the proceeds.
In the present scheme, districts where STL operates receive 2.5 percent share while 10 percent goes to the local government, 5 percent to the provincial government and another five percent to the local police.
Laguna first district Rep. Danilo Fernandez, who earlier sought a congressional inquiry into the low STL remittances, said the new scheme would ensure that operators remit the government’s rightful share from the revenues.
“What the President wants is for the government not to be at the losing end,” Fernandez said in a phone interview.
He said he and former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo had discussed the new guidelines three months before Robredo and two pilots died in a plane crash in Masbate.
Fernandez said they were just waiting for the Palace to issue the guidelines for the Loterya ng Bayan which the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office would present to the House Committee on Games and Amusements.
“Everyone’s entitled to apply (as operator of the Loterya ng Bayan, as long as) you have the technical know-how and the financial capacity,” the operator said when asked if the current STL franchise holders would vie for Loterya ng Bayan contracts.
He said while the STL was used as a front for illegal jueteng in some provinces, specially in the North, “it’s quite unfair to those whose operations are legal, no matter how much we say that some of us are clean.”
In a phone interview, Chief Superintendent James Melad, regional police director, said they would abide by the new rules of the Loterya ng Bayan, if it came to effect.
“We have no place in drafting the provisions of the Loterya ng Bayan, so whatever arrangement the PCSO will come up with, we will implement it,” he said.
He added, “I can only speak for my region but we don’t have illegal gambling operations, of whatever form, anymore here.”