Ceremoniously signed as effective from 18 April 2004, Republic Act No. 9287 impressively increased the penalties for illegal numbers games. It looks at jueteng as gravely offensive to the common welfare. Hence, juetengeros are prominently cited as deserving not only of big fines but also of long imprisonment. The penalties cover the operators all the way down to the collectors. It even penalizes the bettors.
But there it stops. The law was dead the moment it was signed. It is well crafted and aptly worded. It sounded definite and resolved. But the law proved futile and inutile. Just in the case of quasi innumerable good laws, their implementation is practically non-existent.
Incompetent or impotent—this is the rightful qualification of the present administration in implementing Republic Act 9287. What is truly sad is that there is one too many signal indications that Malacañang itself wants it that way. It appears that it has long since made the deliberate option not to have the law implemented for many million reasons. The Senate hearing on jueteng has sworn testimonies to this effect. None of them have been disproved to this date.
That is why all the known and named gambling lords of jueteng in the country are up and about. That is why their respective syndicates remain well and alive. That is why they operate and stop jueteng at will with impunity. That is why they consider Republic Act 9287 a big joke, and that is why jueteng is once again operational in the country.
Never mind if jueteng fools and exploits the poor. It is all right for people to be indolent and made dependent on chance. So what if jueteng corrupts many public officials and police authorities. It does not matter if the gambling lords remain powerful, influential and therefore untouchable. It is okay for jueteng payolas to fund election campaigns.
Something must be basically wrong with a government that is an expert in the imposition of taxes upon the citizens but a disaster in promoting their common welfare. It is hard to take an administration seriously when it talks too much but delivers so little, when what it says does not happen and what it is silent about takes place. The mark of jueteng is but one ample proof of this malady obtaining in the country today.
22 May 2006