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ON CONTINUING JUETENG OPERATIONS: PNP chief challenged for his one strike policy

By Manuel T. Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY --- Pestered by the perennial operations of jueteng, a group of senior citizens in Albay challenged the new police chief to make good of his words to stop the illegal gambling, saying that the numbers game corrupts several government officials including police and local executives.

It will be recalled that during his presidential campaign in 2016, then Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte was very vocal when he flaunted that jueteng did not exist during his 20-year stint as local chief executive because he does not love jueteng. He said jueteng will not thrive without the involvement of the mayor or the police chief. He said if the mayor wants jueteng and the police chief refused, or the other way around, jueteng cannot survive.

Philippine National Police chief Benjamin Acorda recently ordered police chiefs to stop illegal gambling saying erring police officers would certainly be sacked if they cannot stop the illegal gambling under his “one strike policy without take.”

Anti-gambling advocates claimed that illegal gambling especially jueteng is becoming stronger, with the poor Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program beneficiaries being the vulnerable sector from where most of the bettors come from.

In an interview, Ben Roquid, 74, who is a retired US Navy officer and coordinator of the so-called Ragtag Senior Citizens Group, who regularly meet early morning at their favorite food house at the Ayala Mall in Legazpi City over a cup of coffee, said the government should not focus alone on it campaign against drugs, adding the illegal jueteng numbers game called jueteng is a strong source of dirty money for the police and local executives.

Roquid said jueteng has become stronger with the government regular monthly support for the poor known as the 4Ps.

In Ligao City, a senior citizen mother turned triumphant very recently after she won P3,080 the first time for her 8 pesos bet for numbers 5 – 29 on April 24 jueteng draw more than 20 years since she began betting on jueteng. She, however, admitted that her neighbors who are covered by 4Ps were more regular jueteng bettors, saying she is not.

The senior citizens welcome the threat of the new PNP chief Acorda against illegal gambling by introducing his “one strike no take policy.” A retired government worker Emmanuel Monforte claimed that during his stint at the DPWH regional office in Legazpi, jueteng bet collectors were almost like employees of the DPWH who come to office regularly to collect bets, worse, also representing or collecting bets for the government Small Town Lottery.

The seniors recall the time of then Albay police provincial director Col. Ferdinand Lagman (1984 – 1986) who completely wipe out the well-entrenched jueteng operations before his appointment in the province as police chief. Attacked by politicians and local media for stopping jueteng, he said: if you want jueteng, work for my relief, was Lagman challenge.

A source said, Col. Lagman did not make threat on his police chiefs of a one strike policy.

He just relieved them if they can’t stop jueteng during the period he wanted to rid jueteng, adding not even a guerilla jueteng operation in distant villages succeeded during his three-year stint in Albay as police chief.

Sources said that jueteng money simply corrupts police and LGU executives suggesting that a tandem of a mayor and the police chief only worsen the situation. The government should not allow LGUs be a party in the appointment of police chiefs, the reason jueteng or any form of gambling persists. Added to this is the introduction of STL which the government justified as great formula to curb illegal gambling.

Early this year, however, the provincial board of Albay passed a resolution urging the stop in the operations of STL for its failure to remit its monthly minimal contract remittance to the province and municipalities. The board found that the STL franchise only served as front for jueteng operation.

The senior citizens claimed that jueteng operations remain unperturbed even during visits of high-ranking PNP officials or any top brass from the government unlike in previous years when it is compelled to stop for a day or two due to the presence of a visitor from the national government.


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