By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
An old issue and maybe the favorite subject of expose every time the national leadership changes, is again making waves in Congress. Maybe because our leaders never actually want to root it out, but still it is bound to come out from time to time to maybe drop-off some fall guys from its roost.
A list of politicians, ranking police officers and cabinet members who are allegedly receiving jueteng payola was submitted to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee headed by Sen. Teofisto Guingona III.
Our “three months” old mayor who has been elected only “eight times” into the City’s leadership just found his name in the sinners list of retired Bishop and dedicated moral crusader (especially against gambling) Oscar Cruz of Pangasinan. Like most of the officials in that list read out in the Senate hearing on Jueteng, our ‘new’ mayor also made a series of media appearances to “clear” his name airing his brand of denial, challenges and tirades.
Not too long ago, Governor Chavit Singson made a historical expose that kindled EDSA Dos and dislodged President Erap from Malacañang. To remind us of that time and what jueteng is to our bureaucracy, may I lift the following excerpt from an article of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), published in December 2000, Public Eye — Jueteng Republic:
“The world of jueteng is,” as Singson described it, “Everybody happy: BIR, DILG, police hanggang sarhento (up to sergeant), sundalo (soldiers), mayor, governor, pati media.” There were enough pay-offs to keep mouths shut and pockets full. Data from jueteng ledgers seized by the police in Ilocos Sur in June showed what the going rates in the province were: P1 million monthly for the regional PNP director; P500,000 for the provincial police chief; P150,000 for the local congressman; and PP7,500 to P30,000 for the municipal police chief, depending on the size of the town.
In fact, the media played no mean part of this conspiracy of silence. Eighteen journalists were supposedly listed in the ledgers found by the police in their raids on Ilocos Sur gambling operations.
In 1995, a joint report by the PCIJ and the Institute for Popular Democracy showed the range of officials who provided protection for jueteng operations in a town in Pangasinan and estimated that about a third of the money raised from gambling went to pay for such protection. Operational costs accounted for another third: Of this, winnings took 10 percent; operational costs, 10 percent; cabos and cobradores, 10 percent. The remaining third went to the jueteng operator, who used up part of this money for the patronage that keeps the game’s grassroots base grateful and happy.
Like local politics, jueteng is nurtured by a combination of complicity, beneficence and terror. It is in this same cauldron where corruption thrives and where Erap Estrada thought he could reign as President. He was very nearly proven right.
The problem is that even with Estrada gone, the world that gave rise to a gangster presidency continues to exist. The rot has set in and it will take more than the ouster of a President to rid us of it.”
The way Singson described it, jueteng cannot operate in one area without the nod of the LGU leaders and the PNP. You wanna bet? Just check at the waiting shed or jeepney stop for your local kobrador to take bets on the small man’s “illegal numbers game.”
Only a mass movement against gambling can make a dent in the eradication of this criminal system as much as a ‘happy’ support network at the ground level makes it thrive.# nordis.net