Sunday, November 28, 2010

No Jueteng in Marinduque? Look again now.

During the In September 2010 Senate committee hearings investigating the ‘jueteng’ scandals - in aid of legislation - Senators Enrile and Estrada at one point actually recommended legalization. Jueteng is the illegal numbers game that has remained unabated in various parts of the archipelago for the last hundred years. So it’s now a question really of whether we want to legalize it or not, stressed Enrile.






If it is legalized, jueteng operators will come out in the open and have a legitimate business with the government earning billions of pesos in revenues, said Estrada.

Sen. Sotto disagreed citing Marinduque, of all places, as a province where, according to him, the illegal numbers game does not exist because of political will. “Ayaw ni Governor Carmencita”, Sotto said. The hearing was carried live on ANC. Yet on the same September day, a DILG spokesperson was interviewed over DZRH-Radyo Natin saying plainly that Marinduque and Pampanga (its governor also denied that jueteng existed there), are among the provinces where illegal numbers games exist. And today we see the Marinduque police and local officials up in arms versus this illegal numbers thing and other forms of gambling.

What’s the real score then? Truth is, male and female ‘cobradors’ collecting bets as they make the rounds of houses even in the most remote of Marinduque barangayshave become all-too-familiar sights, of course. A ‘kabo’ in motorcycle would collect all the bets and turn them over to the ‘bangka’ whose identity is known to only a few.
Shortly after the operation of STLs, small town lotteries, ‘jueteng’ in Marinduque was replaced by the new variants, ‘suertres’ (three numbers) and ‘2-balls’ (two numbers). This means illegal gambling operators merely and freely make use of the results of PCSO-drawn numbers for the authorized ‘suertres’ and ‘EZ2 lotto’, that are just two among the many lotto games bettors follow nightly on television.

The said Senate hearings revealed that in most cases elsewhere in the country, the STL operators themselves are behind this jueteng-type of operations as the method does not involve issuance of any controlled tickets to bettors. It is enough that bettor numbers are listed by the ‘cobrador’ a-la jueteng in his/her ‘listahan’ or, acknowledged by the ‘cobrador’ by scribbling it on any piece of paper available around. (In more progressive areas tickets are issued but with identical control numbers to give it a semblance of legality). The illegal method is so successful that in the provinces the take by STL operators , it is said, is so enormous, far exceeding the sales made in lotto outlets. (No taxes ever paid, thus, nothing for charity, the main reason why lotto was legalized in the first place.)

So here in Marinduque, as if to underline the glaring deception carried on national television that this province is free from illegal numbers games, a claim reaching even the halls of the Senate and unwittingly used to thwart any effort to legalize such gambling variety, a significant development recently transpired.

The provincial Philippine National Police (PNP), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the municipal governments decidedly staged a crusade against all forms of illegal gambling in Marinduque. This was conducted in the form of a peaceful rally with speeches. Held simultaneously in town centers last November 10, no less than PNP provincial director, PSSupt. Edwin Roque spearheaded the exercise aimed to deliver the message to the local populace.

A considerably huge number of people in every barangay are, of course, unhappy. They depended on the suertres and 2-balls operation for their daily income. The crusade was also against other forms of gambling like ‘patupada’, illegal cockfighting and ‘tong-its’, poker, and so a lot more people sulked.

I asked some in my neighborhood and other friends from certain barangays if ‘cobradors’ still roam in their vicinity after the conduct of the government-sponsored rally. They report that the bettings have stopped in their barangays (seaside Boac and Gasan particularly), but also suspect that they’ll be back in business in a couple of months.

Provincial director Roque emphasized that the move was strongly supported by Congressman Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco and Governor Carmencita O. Reyes. He, however, also revealed that currently there are still reports of the illegal games being perpetrated in some far-flung areas. Some ‘cobradors’ have been, in fact, apprehended by the municipal PNPs.

It must be interesting to know what the Church, as moral champion, has to say about ‘jueteng’ and its variants. I heard TV-show host Boy Abunda of "Bottomline" ask Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, Jr. if he’d ever accept money from illegal gambling operators amid accusations that many bishops are receiving such. Answer: “Sa ngayon walang nakasulat na batas na ipinagbabawal yan, pero kung ating titingnan ang moral principles masasabing hindi ayos ang tumanggap ng ganun".

The jueteng bodabil show.

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