In the course of the Senate investigation on jueteng, we selflessly raised our voices to condemn the evil conspiracy that robbed the poor of the little they have only to enrich the pockets of a few. We came out from the secure confines of anonymity and risked being identified as targets by the powerful and influential. The normal rhythm of our lives has been disrupted. We have received serious death threats. We have been pilloried with concocted stories sullying our reputation. All of these were calculated to cow us into silence and crush our will.
We have paid a high price indeed. And yet after all these sacrifices, the reaction we receive from the national leadership is its stolid silence and indifference. The crusade against jueteng until now has remained a purely citizens’ initiative. The government has yet to employ the strong arm of the law to weed out this national malady.
Jueteng can only thrive in a conducive atmosphere of co-optation. It derives its longevity to the connivance between the operator, politician, and police. It is deeply embedded in the system of patronage that characterizes our political culture. The collection of payola, running into billions of pesos every year, has evolved into an informal “franchising/licensing system” maintained for the operation of the illegal numbers game in a given province, city, or municipality. It is not at all surprising that the territorial limits of jueteng activity always coincide with the geographical jurisdiction of the conniving politician and police.
Yet, in the very secret of jueteng’s survival lies the seeds of its demise, as there can absolutely be no jueteng in localities where the authorities do not permit the operator to conduct his activities. Jueteng can only be stopped if stopping it is willed. The fact that jueteng is still widespread can only signify that there is no serious law enforcement effort to curb it and all illegal numbers games.
It is high time for the national leadership to exercise political will in the battle against jueteng and all illegal numbers games. Although we hope that the current Senate investigation can provide better solutions, we still believe that the key to stamping out jueteng and all illegal numbers games lies in the area of enforcement, not merely in the passing of more legislation.
This is not a demand. This is a call for you to do you duty.
BISHOP OSCAR V. CRUZ, DD
With the assistance of counsel:
FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ