What did not die at all but already has a rebirth? Answer: Jueteng. What is the best example of the same dog having but a different collar? Answer: Jueteng. What is like a proverbial cat with nine lives? Answer: Jueteng.
There were loud public pronouncements that Jueteng would be a thing of the past in this country by last September. There were even the well-published threats of the so-called “three” or even but “one strike policy”. Some police authorities were in fact made sacrificial spectacles to demonstrate an “honest-to-goodness” national drive against Jueteng. Well it is now clear that all these are what are commonly called as but one big “palabas”.
There are three truths begging to be told regarding this dirty business of gambling specifically designed to exploit the poor. The first is that the infamous “Jueteng” was officially made to metamorphose into the devious Small Town Lottery (STL). The second is that there are billions of loose money in both these numbers games. The third is that not only the same gambling lords but also the same payola beneficiaries are all salivating to continue fattening their bank accounts at the expense of the same already destitute bettors.
Recently there came out this heading in a broadsheet: “STL, Jueteng becoming more and more alike”. This is a kind way of putting it. The hard reality is that one is like the other—where there is one, the other is there too. In fact, the very profitable “bookies” is an unshakable companion of one or the other.
The present administration must be not only financially but also morally bankrupt. This explains why it avidly collects indirect taxes even from the poorest of the poor. And that is why it adamantly craves for gambling revenues from the poor as well. What is worse is the fact that it is anybody’s guess what the government does with such poor people’s money.
A national leadership that officially and openly spouses and promotes gambling not only among the few filthy rich but also the multi-million miserable people in a country is a big national socio-political liability. Instead of advancing public morals, it precisely destroys this by formal dissemination of the culture of indolence and chance, dishonesty and greed. All these are normal accompaniments of organized or syndicated gambling.
No wonder it becomes harder and harder to trust and respect the present administration.
+O. V. CRUZ, D.D.
2 October 2006