By Aaron Recuenco
General Oscar Albayalde, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), on Tuesday warned all municipal police chiefs, particularly in Luzon they will be relieved from their posts if ‘jueteng’ operations continue in their areas of jurisdiction.
“We have a standing directive that we call one-strike policy on illegal gambling. This will be used in case of jueteng resurgence,” said Albayalde.
The PNP leadership earlier expressed fears over the possible resurgence of jueteng after President Duterte ordered late Friday the suspension of lotto, Small-Town Lottery (STL) and other gaming activities under the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) due to massive corruption.
A day after the President’s declaration, Albayalde said they have monitored jueteng operators mobilizing people for the operation of the illegal numbers game in two provinces in Central Luzon.
All provincial and regional directors had been ordered to intensify intelligence-gathering against jueteng in Luzon.
“As of now, we have not monitored resumption of illegal jueteng operations. But just the same, I have already directed all regional directors to monitor this just in case,” said Albayalde.
He said his order comes with a warning.
“If an anti-jueteng operation is successful in one particular municipality or area through arrests, the chief of police or the station commanders will be made answerable,” said Albayalde.
Under the one-strike policy, the chief of police, precinct commander and station commander are immediately relieved from their post if the crackdown by the Regional office or Camp Crame-based units against jueteng is successful.
If three chiefs of police are relieved due to jueteng operations, the provincial director will likewise have to go.
The one-strike policy on jueteng was implemented during the administration of President Gloria Arroyo in an attempt to stop the culture of corruption in the police force.
But while the PNP denies the existence of rampant jueteng operations, President Duterte says otherwise.
STL identification cards
Last month, President Duterte described jueteng as a lesser evil compared to illegal drugs. “Maski sinong Presidente ilagay mo dito, for as long as the economy does not really provide food on the table for so many families, hayaan mo na lang ‘yan (jueteng). At least ang pera doon… Kasi hindi ko talaga rin kaya. At pagka sinira ko ‘yan, ang papalit sa apparatus niyan droga. So choose between the lesser evil,” Duterte was quoted saying.
Intelligence reports reveal that STL is being used by jueteng operators as front to cover their illegal activities. The STL was reportedly allowed to operate to eliminate jueteng. But jueteng bet collectors arrested in jueteng operations show off their STL identification cards to escape arrest.
A number of police commanders have lodged complaints against jueteng operators in the past only to be harassed through administrative and criminal charges.