Miriam calls for drastic measures to wipe out 'jueteng'

September 23, 2010 10:26 am 

MANILA, Sept. 22 –- Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago called on government on Wednesday to take drastic measures that will totally eliminate illegal numbers games, including "jueteng."

”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,” Santiago said in her privilege speech.

The feisty lady lawmaker urged the Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to spearhead the campaign against jueteng.

”DILG exercises the power of control over the PNP, and the power of supervision 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,” Santiago said.

To curb jueteng, Santiago proposed to increase penalties imposed by the Penal Code which prohibits certain forms of gambling, including jueteng.

”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,” she said.

The senator said 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,” Santiago said.

Should the government fails to stop jueteng, Santiago said the lawmakers should consider the proposal to legalize jueteng and get the proper taxes to fund the government projects and programs.

”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?” she said.

”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,” Santiago added. (PNA) V3/jfm

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