It’s human nature, says Roxas of ‘jueteng’
Why hasn’t the illegal numbers game “jueteng” been stopped even under this “daang matuwid” (straight path) presidency?
Asked the question on Saturday, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas told the Inquirer: “Maybe it’s human nature. You have to ask the anthropologists and sociologists that. My job is to stop it.”
The Inquirer did just that and asked a sociologist and a political analyst why they thought jueteng persisted.
Political analyst Ramon Casiple and sociologist Louise Abigail Payuyo both said that it took political will—from President Aquino down to the local government officials—to eradicate what they called a systemic and cultural problem.
Roxas on Friday appeared with jueteng whistle-blower Pangasinan town Mayor Rodrigo “Ric” Orduña in a press briefing in Camp Crame. The mayor accused Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino Jr. of being the jueteng lord in the province and in this capacity accepting P900 million in payoffs from jueteng operators.
Orduña submitted a sworn affidavit detailing what he knew of Espino’s role in jueteng operations in the province.
Check out localities
Asked if the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) was monitoring any other local governments or police officials for possible involvement in jueteng, Roxas said that his office had not placed any individuals under surveillance but was checking out localities and areas for illegal gambling activities.
“If they exist, then we take the appropriate action. The responsible (authorities) such as the local government units and the PNP are immediately placed on the carpet,” Roxas said by phone.
He said that much like the “mystery shoppers” that he employed when he was trade secretary to keep track of prices in local markets, he had deployed “mystery bettors” to monitor the prevalence of jueteng in local governments.
“If it’s easy to place bets in various parts of the locality, then it is an indicator that (jueteng) exists,” Roxas said.
He added that he had been receiving “sporadic” reports that jueteng continued in various parts of the country.
Sociologist Payuyo told the Inquirer that solving the problem of jueteng “is the ultimate test of political will for any president.”
Dipped their fingers
She added, “Past presidents have paid lip service to any advocacy to eradicate jueteng. Others had dipped their fingers into it. You have to see jueteng as a systemic problem that is deeply ingrained in local culture.”
Mr. Aquino may be pursuing his anticorruption policy of “daang matuwid” but, Payuyo said, “he’s not Superman.”
She said: “He will rally the people towards the eradication of jueteng. He lays down the policy and sets the vision but he cannot do it alone. We should take cognizance of the role of civil society, which for academic purposes, includes the Church.
“It is misleading to think that the President and his men have the ultimate responsibility to put an end to any problem. It has to be a total approach.”
From a sociological perspective, Payuyo said, jueteng was an institutionalized practice that would be difficult to eradicate as it was deeply “embedded in society.”
Filipinos’ “penchant for gambling” stems from the belief that they have a chance to get rich and improve their lives through jueteng, she said.
This is reinforced by others, like jueteng lords, she added.
Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER), said in a separate interview that the late DILG head, Jesse Robredo, was successful in his antijueteng campaign when he was mayor of Naga City because he had political will, and the city’s police chief enforced the law against illegal gambling.
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