Press Release
May 21, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today expressed suspicion that jueteng has bounced back with vengeance in several areas with the tacit consent of Malacañang as a concession to unscrupulous mayors and other local officials who demand a return of their gambling payoff to build up their campaign chest for the 2007 elections.

Pimentel said the resumption of jueteng operations would not have been possible without the tolerance of the local police commanders who may have received an unwritten order from highers-up to go easy on the drive against the illegal numbers game.

He noted that no police commander has been sacked in recent weeks in the face of proliferation of jueteng despite the so-called one-strike policy of Philippine National Police Director General Arturo Lomibao. Based on this policy, a police chief should be automatically relieved of his post if PNP authorities find out that he has failed to stop jueteng operation in his area of jurisdiction.

Pimentel belittled the announcement of Director General Lomibao that he has activated the Anti-Jueteng Task Force to clamp down on the underground game operations.

That is another gimmick and I cant see why there is a need for a task force. All that the police officers have to do is to implement the law against illegal gambling. They should arrest not only the bet collectors but also the jueteng lords, he said.

Pimentel expressed dismay over reports that the small town lottery (STL), which was designed as a legal alternative to jueteng, is being used by gambling lords as a cover for jueteng operations.

Reacting to reports that jueteng has returned all over Luzon and some parts of the Visayas, the minority leader said that would not happen if there is no explicit order from the highest authorities to leave the jueteng operations alone.

Pimentel asked Director General Lomibao why he has not headed the demand of Isabela Governor Grace Padaca for the immediate relief of Senior Supt. Oscar Fiesta as acting provincial police director for his purported failure to stop jueteng in Isabela.

He also took the PNP to task for its dismal failure or refusal to implement the new Anti-Illegal Gambling Law (Republic Act 9287) which imposes harsher penalties for violators of the law.

Pimentel said the PNPs lip service treatment, if not outright disregard of RA 9287, which was enacted into law in 2004, could explain why jueteng, masiao and other outlawed numbers games continue with impunity.

He cited persistent reports that police officers are still using an already outmoded martial law decree, Presidential Decree 1602, in filing charges against persons caught for their involvement in illegal gambling.

Why are they still using a Marcos decree that has already been repealed in going after these offenders? It is clear that their intent on is to spare the gambling lords and other violators from heavier penalties, the senator said.

Under PD 1602, violators of the law could be fined only for as low as P400 to a maximum of P2,000, and may be imprisoned for only six months.

But under RA 9287, maintainers, managers and operators of jueteng and other forms of illegal gambling may be slapped an imprisonment from 12 years to 14 years. Supervisors and bet collectors of colorum gambling outfits may be jailed from six to 12 years. Gambling operators can be fined for P3 million to P5 million.

Pimentel pointed out that RA 9287 was enacted by Congress in response to the appeal of law enforcement for a stronger law against illegal gambling. He said it is ironic and anomalous that nobody has been convicted under RA 9287 since it took effect about two years ago.

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