Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has lashed out at Mr. Duterte for tolerating the operations of an illegal numbers game jueteng in the country, contradicting his oft-repeated directive to intensify the national campaign against illegal gambling.
De Lima, who chairs the Senate social justice, welfare and rural development committee, said she is not surprised that Duterte would use excuses, such as jueteng, to skirt away from his real responsibility to arrest the weakening of the country’s economy.
“In response to the deteriorating economy, the President thinks his government should not go against jueteng because it now serves as a boost to the sagging economy in the country’s localities,” she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 332.
“At first glance, the President’s position seems surprising, after promising to go after illegal gambling once he is done dealing with illegal drugs. But this position is only consistent with what we have already seen in his government,” she added.
Last June 22, Duterte has admitted he might allow jueteng to go on because it is an “economic activity” that helps money circulate in the provinces. He said a police crackdown of the illegal numbers game would cripple local economies.
His remark, however, runs contrary to his earlier directive sometime in 2017 when he ordered concerned government agencies to intensify a crackdown on illegal gambling. A year earlier, he threatened to close all online gambling operations in the country.
The Senator from Bicol said Duterte cannot be expected to implement the law against gambling because even when he was a mayor of Davao City, he has allowed his men to violate the law and encouraged local vigilantes to kill small-time criminals.
“Duterte is no law enforcer. He actually enables the violation of the law and the Constitution. He declared the Constitution a mere scrap of paper in front of those charged to defend it, our soldiers and men and women of the AFP,” she said.
“He (Duterte) has made the killing of mere suspects an SOP (standard operating procedure) in the PNP (Philippine National Police), and encouraged vigilantism in dealing with small-time suspected drug-users and pushers,” she added.
The former justice secretary said Duterte has ushered in a Philippine era of what she referred to as “State Gangsterism” where the government is at the service of a criminal enterprise, and a State machinery is under the control of gangsters.
“This is what we get for letting a regional warlord and local criminal gangster boss occupy the presidency. Our law enforcers have become the protector of the crime lord, while pretending to fight crime by arresting shirtless tambays and shooting down teenagers in slums,” she said.
“On the other hand, the AFP hierarchy rationalizes the biggest heist pulled off by the crime lord, the sell-out of national territory in exchange for protection from his own people and soldiers, as well as financial loans that are nothing but bribes and grease money,” she added.