Duterte says he will never allow proliferation of ‘jueteng’
President Rodrigo Duterte made it clear that he never said he would allow “jueteng” to flourish in the country, and neither did he order the police to stop going after operators of the numbers racket.
The President said he wanted to correct “one senator,” apparently referring to Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who warned police officers not to follow “illegal orders,” including stopping
the campaign against jueteng, from their superiors, even the President.
“I didn’t say that I’ll allow jueteng,” the President said in a speech on Monday night in Maasin City, Southern Leyte province. “I only said I will look for ways to handle this because the lotto has not been useful. It was supposed to win over jueteng.”
“I never said that I prohibited the police. I never gave any such order. (Lacson) just didn’t listen to the full transcript,” he said.
Not valid legal defense
On Saturday, Lacson, who was chief of the Philippine National Police from 1999 to 2001, reminded officers that following an illegal order was “not a valid legal defense in court.”
He was reacting to a statement by the President a week earlier that seemed to suggest that the government should go easy on jueteng until a viable “replacement” was found for the racket.
The President said then that the economy was “in the doldrums” and he was considering a strong replacement for jueteng to stir economic activity in the provinces.
“Now if I don’t have a replacement for jueteng, what can I do?” he said.
“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. Then what is the activity—economic activity? None. Now if there’s jueteng … at least money goes around. Some people will get hungry, others will be able to eat, [but] there’s commercial activity,” he added.
‘Jueteng’ and drugs
Last week, the President followed this up by expressing concerns that the illegal drug trade might become more rampant if jueteng were totally eradicated because this would allow drug dealers to use jueteng’s “very extensive and intensive network.”
He had also said no administration was able to stop drugs and illegal gambling.
“I’m not saying I won’t take action. I will. But I am aware of the danger of what will develop after you stop jueteng,” the President said.
On Monday night, the President said he still has to look for ways to help stimulate the local economies, reiterating that “if you don’t put a stop to (jueteng) now, the people involved in the drug trade will settle in to take over the networking.”
“So just listen to me because you chose me … when we finish this, I promise you a more comfortable Philippines,” he said.
Small Town Lottery
The lotto game may not have been successful, as the President said, in curbing the numbers racket, but another game created by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) — the Small Town Lottery (STL)—is proving to be a “jueteng killer,” according to PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan.
Balutan on Tuesday said STL provided thousands of jobs for the “kubrador” (bet collectors) and saved them from illegal drugs and crime.
“It seems as if STL is not yet fully appreciated … It is the biggest killer of jueteng or illegal numbers game,” he said in a statement. “Instead of tolerating jueteng, it is better to support and strengthen STL instead.”
P24-B revenue by year-end
Balutan said unlike jueteng, which is controlled by gambling lords who do not pay taxes on their earnings, STL is regulated by the government. It is expected to make P24 billion in revenue for the PCSO by the end of the year, he added.
The expanded STL has provided more than 300,000 jobs, with kubrador earning over P7,000 monthly.
“At least we are giving our countrymen the opportunity to have a clean and decent job [that does not come from] illegal [means],” Balutan said. “STL may be the President’s legacy to curb the illegal numbers game.”
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