Sunday, December 12, 2004

PD No. 1602 - again

Talk of graft and corruption brought about by regular generous payolas to public officials and police authorities, speak of the surreptitious funding of candidacies for public offices understandably from the barangay surprisingly to the national levels, and think of protection racket that makes private individuals and civil authorities see nothing, hear nothing and say nothing — and you are addressing the socio-ethical vice caused and promoted by the infamous Jueteng and the shameful Masiao.

These illegal numbers games collect billions from the gullible bettors. Millions thereto are given to high public figures and police officers. Thousands thereof are handed to local public authorities and police officials.

The conservative estimate by DILG is the following: Yearly, Jueteng collections alone already amount to some 38 billion pesos a year. Some 15% of it go to payolas. The remaining 85% go the big deep pockets of their provincial, regional and national Lord Capitalists.

But to such an infamous and insiduous racket which is done right under the noses of those supposed to stop it, this is the pitiful penal response of PD No.1602 to those caught operating them: For first timers, prison OR fine of 500 to 2000 pesos. For recidivist, prison OR fine of 1000 to 2000 pesos. These funny and puny fines are definitely “peanuts” to the multi-billion illegal numbers games.

No one, but no one goes to prison. Everyone, yes everyone pays the fine. Thus caught in the late morning, everybody, yes everybody is out early afternoon. And the illegal numbers game merrily continues asif nothing at all happened. This is legal hypocrisy at its best. The law has become a great friend of the law-breakers.

And the questions remain and they beg for answers: Why does the archaic and ridiculous Presidential Act remain in force to date? Why is the DILG Secretary on his own in his battle against Jueteng and Masiao. Why is it that the President of the Republic has not even once spoken, much less acted against Jueteng or Masiao? Have they some friends in Malacanang?

23 October 2003