Upon assumption into office, newly-installed Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director-General Ricardo Marquez announced his all-out war against jueteng, the famous poor man’s illegal numbers game that led to the toppling of the Estrada administration. For the youth, the PNP chief’s firm statement appears to be straight-forward that will go down the drain but for the older generation of Filipinos, it is just a repeat of previous pronouncements of similar officials who occupied the same position.
The deeply-rooted illegal numbers game traces back to several centuries ago and the same was passed on to the present generation by our colonizers. Every PNP official who occupies a sensitive position in the national, regional, provincial and city levels since time in memorial have something in common. It is their public announcement to wage war against the operators of jueteng but after sometime the campaign seems to have been forgotten after gambling lords have come to their rescue.
The ultimate question that lingers into the mind of ordinary citizens is whether or not the PNP had been doing its part in the anti-gambling efforts to curb the social menace. However, to our own observation, the PNP never succeeded in such campaign because every official who sat on power was swallowed by the system and there is no doubt about it. Every PNP officer who assumes office tends to wash hands on his involvement in the proliferation of jueteng in his area of jurisdiction but the fact remains that jueteng exists in a locality because of the unwritten rule between local executives and regional, provincial and city commanders that it takes two to dance the tango.
The jueteng payola chain extends up to the national headquarters and the one that enjoys the blessings of those in power will be the one to takeover lucrative areas in aid of raising funds for the elections. Much have been said about the symbiotic relationship and the unwritten rule on jueteng between local officials and ranking police officers, thus, the campaign of PNP chief Marquez against jueteng will just be considered ‘ngingas cogon.’ Many people could attest to the fact that similar strong statements were issued by previous police commanders against jueteng but their words ended up in the air and their campaign followed the crooked route until the issue died a natural death during their respective terms. Now the issue has been revived but people believe it is just a means for PNP officials to have themselves known to the gambling lords that it is also their time to reign and enjoy whatever perks are offered to them.
On the other hand, people have been asking if the media was able to perform its role as the fourth state, especially in the campaign against jueteng. Sad to say that the media never did enough to rid our country of the famous poor man’s illegal numbers game. It is because media had been the one racing for a larger share of the jueteng payola that subsequently compromised their supposed stand that will uplift the morals and values of our people. Enterprising media practitioners had made it a business to represent their colleagues and giving a very low price for their silenced on expose on the proliferation of jueteng in their areas of existence. The fact is that the media sector is vulnerable to such small-time corruption unlike in the PNP where the payola for a certain ranking police official ranges from P500,000 to over several millions monthly. Many police officials were able to get rich because of the lucrative jueteng payola but many media personalities were not able to get rich because they were simply given crumbs of the bread that they were supposed to divide by their very own colleagues.
Sometimes we tend to buy the idea that if there will be no bettors, then the jueteng business will not be as lucrative as it is now. If financiers can see lesser profit from their operations, then they will be the ones to leave the area once people will not patronize such illegal operations. But it seems the same is easier said than done. Despite the repeated appeal of local officials not to patronize jueteng, the more thank people are encouraged to bet for the get rich quick numbers game. The proliferation of various types of illegal gambling activities reflects on how the religious sector is handling the development of the morals and values of our people. We need really to do our homework right before the morals and values of our people will rapidly deteriorate and will lead us to nowhere.