Press Release
July 9, 2019

De Lima reminds Duterte, De la Rosa about law vs illegal gambling

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged Mr. Duterte and his allies to properly enforce the law against illegal gambling and stop tolerating the flourishing business of an illegal numbers game jueteng in the country.

De Lima made the statement after Sen. Ronald de la Rosa defended Mr. Duterte's decision to go easy on the illegal numbers game because "jueteng" is supposedly "a lesser evil" compared to the illegal drug trade.

"For a public official, especially a President and a former PNP Chief, enforcing the law is not even a choice. It is a duty and a mandate," she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 550.

"Duterte and De la Rosa only have two choices. Enforce the law against jueteng or legalize jueteng altogether. Of course, legalizing jueteng means the end of payola to jueteng's protectors in government," she added.

At present, illegal numbers game, including jueteng, masiao, "last two," are considered a crime under Republic Act (RA) No. 9287 which punishes violators with hefty fine and jail term ranging from 30 days to 20 years.

Under RA 9287, a government employee and public official who is found to act as either collector, agent, coordinator, controller, supervisor, maintainer, manager, operator, financier or capitalist of any illegal numbers game shall be penalized with a jail term of 12 years to one day to 20 years and a fine ranging from PhP 3 to PhP5 million, and a perpetual disqualification from public office.

Roughly a year after Mr. Duterte announced he would let jueteng operations to continue, the Chief Executive recently reiterated his plans on leaving jueteng operations alone because it has supposedly been a "successful" networking.

De la Rosa then echoed Mr. Duterte's sentiment, justifying that some jueteng operators might just turn to the illegal drug trade if the government starts to crack down on the popular form of illegal gambling.

De Lima, a known social justice and human rights champion here and abroad, likewise reminded Duterte and De la Rosa that there is no such this as "only jueteng" because jueteng is "always connected to other crimes."

"Jueteng is always a syndicate, an organized crime which involves other crimes like money laundering, drugs, guns for hire, etc. There's no such thing as 'only jueteng,'" she pointed out.

"It is always connected to other crimes because the infrastructure, network, and culture of crime, including payoffs to police, judges, prosecutors, local and national officials, is reinforced by jueteng. Those who say that jueteng is a lesser evil are most probably connected to it," she added.

Duterte's remarks favoring jueteng run contrary to his directive in 2017 ordering concerned government agencies to intensify a crackdown on illegal gambling.

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