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Untouchable?

By: Robert B. Roque, Jr.

TO this day, small town lottery or simply STL is still being used and abused by those involved in the illegal numbers game, particularly “jueteng.”

Although STL operates legally under the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), illegal gambling syndicates have been using it as a cover for their jueteng operations.

Once these gambling lords are given an STL franchise by PCSO, they seem to think they are untouchable and can freely operate jueteng under the guise of STL anywhere they want.

A retired general who happens to be a “mistah” of a PCSO official in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of ’82 lawyers for an STL franchise holder that operates as an illegal bookie. The franchise owner known as “Don Ramon” is reportedly subcontracting his operation to a group that runs the bookie joint. With the retired general flexing his muscles whenever the franchise is raided by the police, can anyone blame these gambling lords for their audacity?

I am not insinuating that PCSO officials are corrupt in any way. However, some people are in doubt if these officials have remained unaware of these gambling lords and their illegal activities concerning jueteng which have come out in the news so many times before.

Even Director-General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, has had enough and ordered a nationwide crackdown on syndicates operating jueteng under the guise of the government-authorized STL.

Dela Rosa wants an out-and-out war against jueteng as he gave all his 18 regional directors 15 days to stamp out illegal gambling in their respective areas of jurisdiction or be relieved from their position.

Although mayors and other local officials want to save and shield their constituents from being hooked on gambling, they appear powerless and too weak to lift a finger and fight these gambling lords who continue to bleed out the underprivileged of the hard-earned coins in their pockets.

A word of advice from Firing Line to these mayors who sincerely want to get rid of the gambling lords in their areas.

You can do what a former mayor of Metro Manila did to stop them some years back: Raid and lock up the place of their operation for not having a mayor’s permit.

These gambling lords are of the mistaken notion that the STL franchise they acquire comes with an iron hand to do anything, and they would need nothing else. But the fact remains that the franchise is not enough and they cannot operate without the necessary mayor’s permit.

Don’t let these syndicates lord it over your cities and municipalities. Illegal gambling should be stopped.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at http://www.tempo.com.ph/category/opinion/firing-line

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