By Mario B. Casayuran
Will the decades-old multi-billion-peso “jueteng” (illegal numbers game) ever be eliminated?
To Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief and chairman of the Senate public order and dangerous drugs committee, the answer to that depends on the PNP “if they have a lot of will (to do it).”
Following President Duterte’s recent order for law enforcement agencies to go hammer and thongs against illegal gambling, PNP Chief Roland dela Rosa ordered the elimination of jueteng in 15 days.
“That call was made 15 days ago and I am still waiting the result of that marching order,” Lacson told The Manila Bulletin.
Lacson estimated that the daily take from jueteng operations, usually in the Luzon area, reaches P267 million a day or about a potential P96 billion a year.
Through the decades, jueteng operators have reportedly funneled millions of pesos in protection money to the bank accounts of ranking PNP officers and local government units (LGUs) officials.
Lacson, chairman of the Senate games and amusement committee, gave this situationer on jueteng after conducting a public hearing on his measure, Senate Bill 1470, which seeks to strengthen the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) by making it more accountable to the public and limiting its discretion in the distribution of its funds.
The measure also allows the PCSO Charter to adapt to the challenging system of and emerging variations of lotteries and similar activities.
Lacson said he filed his bill since the PCSO had also been mired in irregularities, possibly conducted by unscrupulous individuals who took advantage of the loopholes in the present Charter.
He was also critical of jueteng operators using the “small-time lottery” (STL) to cover their more lucrative jueteng operators as they reportedly remit only 40 percent of their STL daily earnings which reach some P6.4 billion a year.
On the tentacles of corruption by jueteng operators, Lacson recalled that he was offered a P1.2-million payola on the first day he was assigned as Laguna provincial director of the PNP in 1992 and they also gave payola to local government officials and the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
Yet, Laguna is small compared with the bigger provinces of Pangasinan, Pampanga, and Isabela, he pointed out.
Lacson cited recent reports that the current monthly payola to a top PNP provincial director is P2 million.