MANILA, Philippines - Once again, the leadership of the Philippine National Police (PNP) has warned police officials against allowing illegal gambling operations in their area or face immediate relief and prosecution.
But this time, according to PNP chief Director General Raul Bacalzo, it will be stricter by implementing a “one-strike” policy.
This means that if jueteng or any illegal gambling operation is found in the area, the concerned police official having jurisdiction would be immediately relieved from duty.
“One strike policy, we will continue implementing it,” Bacalzo said.
Bacalzo said they would be deploying “tracker teams” to track down and identify suspected illegal gambling bet collectors.
If the tracker team arrests a bet collector in a certain area, the police station commander would be immediately relieved.
“The provincial commander will be sacked if there are three arrest in his province,” Bacalzo added.
The PNP first implemented the one-strike policy against jueteng in 2005 but it eventually died out.
Bacalzo ordered an intensified campaign against jueteng to disprove his link to the illegal numbers game.
As a long term holistic approach, Bacalzo said all 17 PNP regional directors were ordered to submit their respective comprehensive plans against illegal gambling in coordination with the local government units and other stakeholders.
“From these plans will evolve what is intended to stomp out illegal gambling, particularly jutting, once and for all by addressing its economic, socio-cultural, political, legal and law enforcement dimension,” he added.
The problem of jueteng had bogged down several administrations, and the issue even contributed to the ouster of former President Joseph Estrada, who had been accused of receiving money
from illegal gambling operations.
There were numerous proposals to legalize jueteng but the Catholic Church and other sectors went against it.
The government, on the other hand, devised the small town lottery (STL) in an effort to defeat jueteng.
But Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said STL had a flaw, claiming it was designed to fail against jueteng.
Robredo said many bettors patronized jueteng since there were more chances of winning the higher prize pot compared to the state-sponsored STL.
“The P1 bet for jueteng can win P900 and there are fewer combinations to choose from, unlike in STL, there are many possibilities and the jackpot is lower,” he said.
Robredo said he would submit the proposal to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to encourage the public to bet more on STL.
The jueteng problem again came to the fore after retired archbishop Oscar Cruz claimed some members of President Aquino’s official family are receiving jueteng payola.
Cruz said even ranking members of the Church had benefited from jueteng operations.
Cruz, for his part, has agreed to appear before a congressional inquiry regarding his revelations.
He stressed, however, that this would be the last time he will submit himself to any investigation on the illegal numbers game.
Cruz assured Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles that he would appear before any congressional body to dispel claims that his allegations were without factual basis.
Cruz said he would “spill everything” he knows but it would be done in a closed-door executive session.
Cruz promised to appear before Congress “without any bodyguard.”
“Tell your colleagues that I’ll go there (House) alone, no lawyers, no witnesses, no bodyguards and I will disclose everything I know,” Cruz told Nograles in Filipino.
“But this is the last time I will talk about this (jutting) if nothing again will come out of this,” he said.
Cecile Suerte Felipe, Philippine Star