DILG Reports Gains in Drive on Jueteng

Article excerpt

Interior and Local Government Secretary Jose D. Lina Jr. yesterday cited the gains attained by the government through the DILG and the Philippine National Police in its renewed and intensified campaign against jueteng, especially the arrest and filing of cases against some 21 big-time jueteng lords and financiers, even as he reiterated his call on Congress to immediately enact a law that would give more teeth to the governments all-out crusades against the illegal numbers game.

Speaking before the press at the DILG office in Quezon City, Lina said that from January, 2002, to the first quarter of 2003, the PNP and the Special Operations Group Jericho conducted a total of 9,347 anti-jueteng operations which resulted in the arrest of 19,651 bet collectors and cabos, confiscation of P6,542,410.85, and the filing of 5,914 cases before the various courts in the country.

He said some 56 criminal charges were filed last year by the police against 21 big-time jueteng lords and financiers, namely, Boy Viceo, Abet Viceo, Linda Negra, Abner Viceo, Tony Santos, Lito Somera, Melchor Caluag, Jojo Tolentino, Boy Vinas, Abner Nicolas, Rodolfo Perez, Boy Aquino, Ayad Viceo, Nonie Viceo, Abet Navarro, John Mateo, Jack Chua, Jhun Chua, Tony Chua, Pedro Galvez, and Edwin Putol.

"These point to the fact that the PNP is not wanting in its task to combat jueteng in the country. We have filed the appropriate charges in courts and it's up to the latter to decide their fate," he emphasized.

Lina said sustained anti-jueteng operations of the PNP also resulted in making the provinces of Marinduque, Catanduanes, Palawan, Occidental Mindoro, Aurora, Mt. Province, and Romblon "jueteng-free."

He said that 90 percent of Ifugao province is already jueteng-free, with only the town of Alfonso Vista with guerrilla-type jueteng operations. Sixty-seven percent of Ilocos Sur is already free from jueteng, he added, with only nine out of 11 towns which are yet to be cleared of the illegal numbers game.

In Metro Manila, Lina said jueteng has stopped in 33 barangays, 12 o f which are in Quezon City, five in Caloocan City, four in Valenzuela City, four in Paranaque, and two each in Marikina, San Juan, Las Pinas, and Navotas.

"This means that as of April 2, 2003, 172 out of 475 towns and cities in Regions 1 to 5 are now jueteng-free as reported by the parish priests and validated and confirmed by pastors in their respective areas," he said.

He said that jueteng is non-existent in Visayas and Mindanao, with only a few guerrilla-type operations in masiao.

However, the DILG secretary said that while the PNP and SOG-Jericho continue with their anti-jueteng operations, the campaign gets stymied or stalled by the outdated anti-gambling law or PD 1602.

He explained that with this outdated law, arrested jueteng lords manage to go scot-free and engage anew in illegal gambling because of the measly fine of P400 to P6,000 imposed on them.

"Unless and until PD 1602 is amended to increase the penalty and fines imposed to offenders, jueteng lords will continue to make a mockery of the law, and the drive to put a stop to jueteng will remain difficult," he stressed.

He reiterated his appeal to Congress to immediately enact a law that would provide stiffer penalties to people engaged in illegal gambling in order "to give more teeth to our crusade against jueteng and thoroughly lick this social menace."

"We are highly confident that this time, Congress will give its all-out support to the anti-illegal gambling crusade of the government," he said.

In April last year, Lina laid down a four-pronged approach to combat jueteng, namely: effective law enforcement; amendment to PD 1602; implementation of livelihood and support program for those who will be financially displaced/dislocated by the anti-jueteng campaign; and conduct of moral recovery or values enhancement program for policemen. …