PHILIPPINE National Police officials have called on the Department of Interior and Local Government and the National Police Commission to go after governors and mayors allowing ‘jueteng’ activities in their area and to ensure that they won’t be given the Seal of Good Governance if the illegal numbers’ game is found to be active in their areas.
“Governors and mayors should be the ones to lead all government efforts to stop ‘jueteng’ in the country and not place the entire responsibility to the police force. They should lead the anti-illegal gambling drive since they have the operational supervision and control over the police,” one police general told the Journal Group on condition of anonymity.
The official said that they have fully acted on the directive of DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año and the PNP leadership to halt all illegal gambling activities including ‘jueteng’ in their areas since last year.
However, he said there have been several instances when local chief executives have sought the relief of their provincial directors and chiefs of police who went after ‘jueteng’ and other illegal numbers’ game in their territories for very obvious reasons.
“This is the reason why we also believe that the Seal of Good Governance should only be given to local government units who have really been declared ‘jueteng-free,’ the official said.
During the past three years of the Duterte presidency, the DILG-Napolcom has stripped at least seven governors and 132 mayors of their supervision and control over the police for a number of reasons ranging from failing to stop illegal drug activities in their areas or for allegedly supporting terrorist activities or failing to suppress lawlessness in their jurisdictions.
However, the DILG-Napolcom is yet to strip any governor or mayor in known ‘jueteng areas’ in Luzon of his/her power to exercise supervisory powers of the local police force.
This time, there have been suggestions from police officials that in order to be given the Seal of Good Governance, an additional parameter is that the local government unit should also be validated as ‘jueteng-free.’
Last April 12, President Duterte signed into law an act establishing and institutionalizing the Seal of Good Local Governance for LGUs.
Under the law, the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) refers to “an award, incentive, honor and recognition-based program for all LGUs, and is a continuing commitment for LGUs to continually progress and improve their performance.”
The law established the Council of Good Local Governance, composed of at least 10 government agencies which will develop performance indicators that shall serve as standards for evaluating the LGUs compliance and/or satisfaction of each of the criteria.
The DILG Secretary was designated as the council’s chairperson.
Last July, President Duterte ordered the shutdown of all Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO)-run gaming activities including Small-Town Lotto amid charges of massive corruption.
The Chief Executive lifted his order the following month after issuing three conditions all aimed at addressing corruption and failure of the gaming operators to pay revenues to the government.
Prior to the presidential directive, there were already reports of ‘jueteng’ operations in various parts of Luzon with some STL operators believed to be using the PCSO-run game as a front for ‘jueteng’ operations.
The modus is that STL collectors would not remit the bets to the STL and instead to the ‘jueteng’ operators. Each time the ‘jueteng’ collectors are arrested, they would present their STL identification cards to wiggle themselves out of trouble. The STL operators would then file criminal and administrative cases against the arresting police team to send a message that they should be left alone.
This modus has long been the subject of complaints by the PNP.
At present, the PNP’s ‘one-strike’ policy on police officers and men protecting illegal gambling in their areas remains. The policy states that stiff sanctions will be meted out on police officers protecting illegal numbers game operations.