I was not surprised to read the headlines state that Sen. Miriam Santiago had received death threats for her position on jueteng. It made me wonder though, what exactly did she say that touched raw nerves?
For all the muck that has been raised against Sen Miriam Santiago, I do admire her guts and her ability to call a spade.. well.. a spade. I say that without closing my eyes to her pragmatism as a political animal.
Even before Miriam Santiago made public her position on legalizing jueteng, in light of the lessons from the US Prohibition Era, BongV of Antipinoy.com has actively campaigned for legalization of jueteng.
In recognition of Sen Santiago’s stand on jueteng, this space is yielded to the Hon Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
I am on sick leave for hypothyroidism, which means that my thyroid gland located at the throat does not produce enough thyroid hormones. This deficiency causes many of the body’s functions to slow down. Some of the symptoms are: extreme tiredness, dizziness, and shortness of breath. For this reason, I will not be able to answer questions after my speech. Instead, with your kind permission, I will have to rush home to recuperate.
On other similar occasions, I hope our colleagues will extend me the similar privilege to participate briefly in certain Senate activities that I might consider as extraordinarily important. I can summon enough energy only for about an hour’s work, each day, and after that I am exhausted and dysfunctional. My endocrinologist expects recovery in three to six months’ time.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen of the Senate:
Albert Einstein, one of the most creative intellects in human history, gave the world the immortal formula “E = mc2”. Filipino Einsteins – who number in the millions – have given our politics the undying formula “DILG + PNP = Jueteng.”
DILG exercises the power of control over the PNP, and the power ofsupervision over local governments. Thus, if the interior secretary commands his forces to stop illegal jueteng, the stars in the heavens will stop, and the Philippines would be jueteng-free.
But unless we in government take drastic measures, jueteng will not end today or next year; jueteng will end only four and a half billion years from now, when planet Earth is expected to die. Before then, big stars will explode in supernovas, dwarf stars will turn into black holes, gravity will create new stars, planets, and galaxies, the planet Earth will commune with alternate universes, and in the Philippines, jueteng will still continue. Why? Because the equation involves too much money and corruption, and too little courage or conviction. Allow me to recite the political playbook.
Jueteng is the crown jewel of any new administration. During any presidential campaign, corrupt racketeers, self-advertised as campaign experts (read: professional campaign cheats) busy themselves by alternately courting each of the leading presidential candidates. By simply tracking the campaign surveys, the racketeers are able to predict the likely winner. In the crucial last few weeks, the racketeering group formally affiliate themselves
with the likely winner, throwing everything his way, notably exorbitant cash contributions, and the alleged support of an alleged nationwide campaign machinery.
When their candidate wins, the racketeers put on their most innocent faces, and steer the new and grateful president to appointing their blushing man as DILG secretary. Once the new interior secretary takes his oath, he immediately summons the PNP chief, and issues the order that, contrary to law, jueteng shall be allowed throughout the archipelago. This is managed corruption. And these two Merchants of Poverty operate with impunity until the next administration.
By allowing jueteng, the two men together will receive at least one percent of jueteng gross receipts every month, or one percent of annual receipts of someP30 billion. Thus, every year, the interior secretary and the PNP chief receiveP300 million, to be divided according to agreement.
The equation DILG + PNP = Jueteng means that illegal jueteng consists of a conspiracy between the interior secretary and the police chief. They are the prime beneficiaries and ultimate protectors of jueteng. If we as a people do not rouse ourselves from our stupor, someday the Philippine president will be elected on the basis of who gets the biggest jueteng contribution.
What about the president? He or she can be manipulated to profess ignorance, because the two lords of the gambling industry will insidiously make the president dependent on their support. For example, they can act as the praetorian guard of the president when he is under siege, such as when a coup d’etat lurks on the horizon, and the PNP has to head off the nascent uprising. Or in times of political crisis, the two racketeers will contribute cash in the hundreds of millions, solicited from jueteng operators, and destined for distribution to certain members of Congress, so that they will not doublecross the president when a certain legislative deal goes sour. In effect, the president will be hostage to jueteng money.
This is the reason why the PNP rank and file always profess to love the interior secretary. He makes it possible for the lowly policemen to – ehem – augment their salaries. This is also the reason why, when the opportunity arises, the interior secretary makes sure that his own candidate gets appointed as PNP chief. In a corrupt situation, all that is necessary is for the interior secretary and the PNP chief to gaze into each other’s eyes, and they fall in love instantly. If you look more closely, you will see that there are peso signs in their eyes, as they gaze lovingly at each other in an orgy of mutual admiration and mutual corruption.
MORALITY OF GAMBLING
As an academic exercise, I will go briefly through the pros and cons of gambling.
1. Effects of Gambling
Pro: Life is dreary, and willing persons deserve simple fun and escapism.
Con: Gambling is immoral, because it gives false hopes to those least able to afford the financial outlay involved. This is particularly true of jueteng.
2. Addiction to Gambling
Pro: The object of addiction is not itself immoral. A person can be addicted to gambling, but he can also be addicted to sex, coffee, jogging, TV, the internet. The source of the addiction is not the cause, which is based on the addict’s own psychological order.
Con: Gambling is as addictive as any drug and similarly results in anti-social behavior, financial ruin, and crime.
Pro: For the poor, material wealth could bring security, education, health care, and other benefits central to human fulfillment.
Con: State-sanctioning of gambling inculcates materialistic values in society. Gambling wealth has destroyed marriages, families, and friendships.
4. Random Nature
Pro: If gambling results are random, so is life itself.
Con: Gambling defeats the ideals of social justice by offering wealth by chance, instead of by skill, industry, or merit. Parenthetically, if certain forms of gambling remain illegal, then gambling in futures, options, and derivatives should be declared illegal as well.
5. Moral Choice
Pro: Gambling is not immoral, but merely harmless fun. It follows the law of supply and demand.
Con: Gambling confronts us with a moral choice on ways of making money. It is like the industries where money is made by selling firearms or dangerous drugs.
6. Waste of Money
Con: Gambling results in the waste of billions of pesos every year, which could be given to charitable uses.
Pro: We should not compel people to donate their money to charity. After all, we do not compel people who spend money on pastimes – such as sports equipment, expensive food and wine, or cosmetics – to give their money to charity.
PROPOSALS TO CURB JUETENG
Under the Constitution, there is no fundamental or constitutional right to gamble. The regulation of gambling lies at the heart of the police powers of the state. Thus, the state has the power to regulate gambling in the interest of public health, safety, and general welfare. Accordingly, the Penal Code prohibits certain forms of gambling, including jueteng.
In view of the stubborn longevity of jueteng in our country, I humbly submit the following proposals for consideration:
The penalties imposed by the Penal Code, Article 195 as amended by P.D. No. 1602, are inadequate. This being so, pending a legislative bill to increase penalties, the justice department should study whether illegal gambling constitutes “racketeering activity” under the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, also known as RICO.
Amend the Penal Code to provide for a new crime penalizing “conspiracy to obstruct justice to facilitate a gambling business.” One of the requirements of the crime should be that one or more of the conspirators is an official or employee of a local government unit, or of the PNP.
Congress should penalize more harshly the party responsible for promoting or facilitating gambling, rather than the person engaging in gambling. Thus, the penalties should be raised for keeping a gambling place, and for possession of a gambling device. The individual bettor is often victimized by the large-scale operator.
PAGCOR and PCSO should be compelled to include in their advertisements, the following statement or its equivalent: “In gambling devices based on the playing of numbers, the odds against the individual player are extremely great.”
The Supreme Court, in any project to amend the Rules of Court, could codify the general rule that the prosecution is privileged to withhold from an accused the identity of an informer. This is known as the privilege of nondisclosure, and I avail of it today.
Amend the Penal Code to control cheating in jueteng, and the dishonesty of its promoters.
If jueteng is legalized, amend the Internal Revenue Code so as to derive rich tax revenues from jueteng, to be levied against the promoters and players.
If all else fails, then as lawmakers we have to consider the proposal to legalize jueteng and declare an amnesty period for jueteng operators to legalize themselves by paying a legalization fee to the government, and by paying subsequent taxes that shall be treated as analogues of internal revenue allotments.
There are occasions when government, seeking to prohibit absolutely, finds the law impossible to enforce, and consequently reduces its ambitions from prohibition to regulation. This is salient in the present debate on legalizing jueteng, because no administration has yet succeeded in sending a major gambling lord to jail. If we cannot prohibit, should we not regulate?
The present prohibition of jueteng is similar to the 1919 National Prohibition Act, which led to the Prohibition Amendment to the US Constitution. Prohibition applied to the manufacture, sale, or transportation of alcoholic beverages, with the aim of obtaining abstinence through legal means.
However, in the United States during Prohibition, illegal manufacture and sales of liquor continued on a large scale. In general, Prohibition was enforced only where the population was sympathetic to it. Prohibition created a new kind of criminal, known as the bootlegger. The career of Al Capone was a dramatic instance of the development of bootlegging on a large scale. There was a succession of gang wars and murders. By the late 1920s, bootlegging was on the verge of semimonopoly control. By 1933, the US had to repeal Prohibition.
In discussing any proposal to legalize jueteng, Congress should consider the following lessons drawn from the US Prohibition Act, as applied to Philippine jueteng:
Prohibition of jueteng has merely increased the reach and volume of jueteng.
Prohibition has led to the perennial criminal conspiracy between the DILG secretary and the PNP chief.
It has increased restriction on individual freedom.
Their illicit, untaxed wealth has enabled jueteng operators to determine by their undeclared campaign contributions the winners in local elections, and soon they might control the results of national elections. Legalization will clip the wings of jueteng operators.
Most countries that have experimented with the alcohol ban soon lifted it, as illustrated by the cases of the U.S. and Finland. In our country, jueteng prohibition is unenforced, because the corruption it breeds vanquishes any champion of law enforcement. Such a champion must be ready to engage the Al Capones of jueteng in a gang war. I don’t see any takers.
PROTECTION MONEY TO PUBLIC OFFICIALS
Money from jueteng bets are called gross receipts. The biggest gross receipts in Luzon are, in order of amount, on a daily, repeat daily, basis are:
- Laguna – P 14 M
- Pampanga – P 9 M
- Pangasinan – P 9 M
- Batangas – P 8.5 M
- Bulacan – P 8 M
- Nueva Ecija – P 7.5 M
- Quezon – P 7.5 M
From this daily income, the jueteng operator has to subtract his operation expenses of 34 percent, itemized as follows:
Cabo – 2%
Cobrador – 10%
Management – 22%
34% Operation Expenses
After subtracting operation expenses, and the jueteng prize money, the operator proceeds to pay, on a monthly basis, protection money to syndicates at various levels, arranged form the highest level, as follows:
A. National Level
- 1% to the syndicate consisting of: DILG secretary or undersecretary, PNP chief, and CIDG head.
- 2% to the PCSO syndicate consisting of: PCSO chair, general manager, board directors, legal department, Romualdo Quiñones, a certain Sabella, and taxes. The operator pays so-called taxes consisting of 5% of the gross, plus 2% for the receipts known as papeletos.
- 1% to the syndicate consisting of the Games and Amusement Board, Intelligence Officer, and to media.
B. Provincial and Regional Level
- 3% to the syndicate consisting of the governor, vice-governor, and Sanggunian Panlunsod members.
- 1% to the PNP Provincial Director.
- 0.2% to the NBI Provincial Director (Point 2 percent)
- 1% to the syndicate consisting of PNP Regional Director, or in Metro Manila to the NCR Police Organization, the Regional 2, and the Regional MG.
C. Municipal Level
- 5% to the syndicate consisting of the mayor, vice-mayor, and Sanggunian Bayan members.
- 2% to the congressman
- 1% to the local chief of police
THE OPERATORS: REGIONS 1 TO 5
I shall now proceed to name the jueteng operators for each region, arranged by province. I cover only Regions 1 to 5, because my informants are still compiling information from other regions. I commend the province of Aurora and Governor Bellaflor Angara Castillo, because apparently there is no jueteng to speak of in Aurora.
It appears that the Top Operators, in terms of provinces covered, are:
- Atong Ang
- Danny Soriano
- Bong Pineda
- Aging Lisan
- Tony Santos
|Jueteng Operator||Numbers Game|
|Ilocos Norte||2 M||Gov. Singson||1-37|
|Ilocos Sur||2 M||Gov. Singson||1-37|
|La Union||800,000||Cong. Singson||1-37|
|Pangasinan||9 M||M. Urduña /
|Nueva Vizcaya||1.5 M||Atong Ang
|Isabela||3.5 M||Atong Ang
|Cagayan||1.4 M||Danny Soriano (Brother of Gen. Soriano)||1-37|
|Benguet||1.2 M||No Name||1-37|
|Baguio||1.5 M||No Name||1-37|
|Nueva Ecija||7.5 M||Bong Pineda
(Gov. P12 M)
|Bulacan||8.0 M||Bong Pineda
(Gov. P6 M)
|Tarlac||3.5 M||No Name
(Gov. No sum)
|Pampanga||9.0 M||Bong Pineda
(Gov. P9 M)
|Zambales||1.5 M||Col. Delos Santos
(Gov. P2 M)
|Olongapo||1.1 M||Aging Lisan
(Gov. P1 M)
|Angeles City||1.5 M||Bong Pineda
(Mayor P1.5 M)
|Bataan||3.0 M||Bong Pineda
(Gov. P3 M)
|Manila||3 M||Bookies / Ronald Lim||1-37|
|Quezon City||2 M||Tony Santos||1-37|
|Caloocan City||1 M||Tony Santos||1-37|
|Navotas & Malabon||2 M||Aging Lisan||1-37|
|Valenzuela||1 M||Tony Santos||1-37|
|Pasay & Makati||1 M||Elmer Nepomuceno||1-37|
|Cavite||1.6 M||Atong Ang
|Virtual 2 /
|Laguna||14.0 M||Don Ramon/Boyet Aransa/Haruta||STL|
|Batangas||8.5 M||Sanchez /
|Quezon||7.5 M||Eddie Gonzales||STL|
|Rizal||1.5 M||Elmer Nepomuceno / Tony Santos||1-37|
|Mindoro Oriental||1.5 M||Atong Ang
|Mindoro Occidental||1.4 M||Don Ramon / Santiago||STL|
|Camarines Norte||1.7 M||Atong Ang
|Camarines Sur||4.0 M||Bong Pineda||1-37|
|Albay||4.2 M||Atong Ang
|Virtual 2 /
|Sorsogon||2.0 M||Bong Pineda||1-37|
Apparently, our government cannot enforce the law that bans jueteng. Various Philippine presidents have come and gone, but illegal jueteng remains. If so, should we not settle for regulating jueteng, instead of abolishing it on paper, without any realistic hope of success on the ground? Then we could impose high fees and earn huge taxes for our cash-strapped government instead of incurring more foreign debts.
Some presidents have established STL as an alternative to jueteng. If the new PCSO management is street-smart, it can easily confirm that only 10 to 15 percent of STL earnings are declared. The rest of the earnings are actually siphoned off to jueteng. Thus, STL is a failure.
Allow me now to quote lawyer’s Latin from Petronius: Quid faciat leges, ubi sola pecunia regnat? What may laws do where only money reigns? What power has the law, where only money speaks? And in the same vein, allow me also to quote Horace: Quid leges sine moribus vanae proficiunt? Without morals, what can futile law do?
Let me end this privilege speech the way I began it: with reference to Einstein. Just before he died in 1955, he wrote: “What I seek to accomplish is simply to serve with my feeble capacity, truth and justice, at the risk of pleasing no one.”
Our mandate on jueteng is clear: enforce the law, or legalize jueteng. Now please excuse me. I am compelled by ill health to go home to Quezon City. But I am also prepared to change direction, if the jueteng operators I have named proceed to send me to my Maker.
We need more brilliant no-nonsense Senators like Senator Miriam Santiago.