By Aaron Recuenco
The Philippine National Police (PNP) vowed Thursday to continue its crackdown on the illegal numbers games despite President Duterte’s statement that law enforcement should prioritize illegal drugs operations over illegal gambling.
PNP spokesman Bernard Banac explained that there is an existing law that mandates the police force to run after financiers, maintainers, and bettors of jueteng and other illegal numbers games.
“The PNP will continue to enforce the law against illegal numbers games, particularly ‘jueteng’, ‘masiao’, and ‘Last 2’ as provided under the law,” he added, referring to presidential Decree 1602, as amended by Republic Act 9287.
Banac, however, said that the PNP leadership understands why President Duterte prefers the police force to focus on illegal drugs operations, which is the chief executive’s campaign promise.
Quoting an assessment report of the PNP, Banac said that they observed in the past decades that when the PNP went all out against “jueteng” during its peak, street level “jueteng” activities would evolve into illegal drugs trade.
The analysis of top police officials is that displaced “jueteng” workers had no other alternative source of livelihood, aside from the fact that drug trafficking is more profitable than “jueteng.’
“We submit to the wisdom of President Duterte in his expression of preference to “jueteng” than to drug trafficking, as means of livelihood of some people in the poorest sectors of society,” said Banac.
“Nonetheless, the PNP cannot afford to be remiss in our duty to enforce the law against both illegal gambling and illegal drugs,” said Banac.
Illegal gambling, particularly ‘jueteng,’ has been a perennial headache of the police force due to rampant corruption that comes with their operation.
In the past, several politicians and policemen had been accused of receiving money from jueteng operators, either weekly or monthly.