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Political will is what’s needed to beat illegal gambling



The comment of policeman Alex Balaoro of Legazpi City (“PCSO’s pipe dream,” Inquirer, 3/26/12) that the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office’s Loterya ng Bayan (PLB) will not solve “jueteng” operations, it being the same dog as the notorious Small Town Lottery (STL), appears to be a defeatist approach to stamping out the illegal numbers game.

The Movement for Transparency in Lottery and Legal Gaming believes that if the Philippine National Police were as sincere and committed to lick jueteng and other forms of illegal gambling as President Aquino is in his antigraft war, jueteng will be a goner in due time. It really is just a question of political will.

STL was conceived as a legal source of additional funds for PCSO and local government units to finance their charitable and medical programs, aside from eliminating jueteng. But  after a few years of operation on what former PCSO chair Manuel Morato called “experimental basis,” STL was “prostituted” by jueteng lords protected by politicians and corrupt cops, thus promoting the culture of gambling rather than wholesome amusement.

Clearly, STL failed during the Arroyo administration because corrupt local officials and policemen dipped their fingers into it instead of resisting bribes from jueteng lords and enforcing the law regardless of who got hurt. It is sad to note that even if PLB has yet to be launched, some policemen have seemingly already waved the white flag, as if saying they can’t make it a success. This mentality undermines the efforts and resolve of Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and PNP Director General Nicanor Bartolome.

But since STL has been discredited as a front for jueteng and a “milking cow” of crooked politicians, PLB should now be implemented in cooperation with new and clean-record franchise operators. This must be coupled with no-nonsense law enforcement against illegal gambling and stiffer sanctions against erring operators and corrupt PCSO and law enforcers.

Despite its “STL collar,” PLB can succeed if both the PCSO and PNP have the political will to stamp out illegal gambling without fear or favor.

EDGAR J. TAMAYO,

convenor,

Movement for Transparency in Lottery and Legal Gaming (MOTLO-LG), ejtamayo@yahoo.com


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