PNP backs Duterte on ‘jueteng’ stand; illegal gambling ‘lesser evil’ than drugs

IT’S really a lesser evil than drugs which however should be stopped since it is against the law.

This is what the Philippine National Police leadership said on Thursday as it fully agreed with President Duterte’s contention that the drug menace could further worsen if ‘jueteng’ were eradicated since those earning their livelihood from the illegal gambling menace would for sure shift to trafficking of either shabu or marijuana once the numbers’ game is fully stopped.

“We submit to the wisdom of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in his expression of preference to “jueteng” than to drug trafficking as means of livelihood by some people among the poorest sectors of society,” said PNP spokesman, Colonel Bernard M. Banac.

“We have observed in the past decades that when the PNP went all out against “jueteng” during its peak, street level “jueteng” activities evolved into illegal drugs trade because some displaced “jueteng” workers had no other alternative source of livelihood, aside from the fact that drug trafficking is more profitable than “jueteng,’ he added.

The President earlier said that he isn’t  a fan of jueteng and other forms of illegal gambling but is ready to turn a blind eye on police and mayors doing these activities. However, he stressed he won’t be forgiving if he catches them engaging in extortion.

“Ako, sabihin ko sa’yo ha. Kayo ‘yung mga sugal-sugal diyan, ‘di ko na pakialaman, huwag lang kayong pumasok. Hindi mo talaga ma-control eh. Kaya nga kayo mag-ano, papalusutin ko kayo ‘yung mga — huwag lang ‘yang extortion at saka droga,” said Duterte in a speech in Pasig.

“Kung sabihin mo ‘yang mga jueteng-jueteng diyan sa kuwan, huwag ‘yung malaki o ‘yung mga hantak-hantak diyan, bahala na kayo. I’m not trying to encourage you, but I cannot stop it anyway at alam ko kulang talaga,” he added.

President Duterte said he would leave jueteng operations for now. “Jueteng is unlawful. It is not legal. It cannot be allowed. If I stop it, I must be prepared to give another livelihood scheme to the people. Because if you can’t find an alternative, drugs will replace the operations. That would be more deadly,” he said.

However, Banac said that the PNP cannot afford to be remiss in our duty to enforce the law against both illegal gambling and illegal drugs.

“Thus, the PNP will continue  to enforce the law against illegal numbers games, particularly “ jueteng”, “masiao”, and last 2 as provided under PD 1602, as amended by RA 9287,” he said.

Banac said that at the same time, the PNP will continue to support the regulated numbers game operations of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office thru the Small Town Lottery as a legalized alternative to  ‘jueteng.’