Duterte take on ‘jueteng’ puzzles STL workers
LUCENA CITY—The army of Small Town Lottery (STL) bet collectors here was surprised and puzzled by what appeared to be President Rodrigo Duterte going soft on the illegal numbers game “jueteng.”
“Jueteng has long been dead in the province with the introduction of STL,” said Mario Lagustan, a former jueteng and now STL collector.
“We know because we’re former jueteng collectors and now comfortable with STL,” Lagustan said.
On Friday, the President said in a speech at the National Information and Communications Summit 2018 at SMX Convention Center that jueteng contributed to economic activity in the provinces.
He also expressed concern that the illegal drug trade would be more rampant if jueteng was removed because drug dealers could use jueteng’s “very extensive and intensive network.”
The President said the same in a speech on Thursday in Panglao, Bohol, where he said jueteng was illegal and must be stopped but that the government must be ready to provide livelihood to jueteng workers to lure them away from the drug trade.
‘What can I do?’
“Now if I don’t have a replacement for jueteng, what can I do?” the President said in Panglao.
“It’s easy. If there’s another form of gambling that takes over, I’ll say, ‘You get out of there’ and arrest them all,” he said.
“Now if there’s jueteng, at least money goes around. Some people will get hungry, others will be able to eat, there’s commercial activity,” he said.
Lagustan and other STL bet collectors, or “kobradores,” said they were confused when they heard in the news what the President said about jueteng.
“If he will allow jueteng, he will kill the STL which has long been our legal source of livelihood,” said Marites Soriano, another STL bet collector.
“He should not do that,” she said.
STL bet collectors urged the President to crack down on jueteng and instead strengthen STL operations.
Lagustan said what the President should do was “add more teeth to the campaign against illegal bookies,” or unlicensed STL operators.
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