Press Release
May 31, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today urged Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez to clamp down on the scandalous practice of police officers and government prosecutors to use an obsolete anti-gambling law to charge and prosecute operators and workers of jueteng and other illegal numbers game resulting in the imposition of lighter penalties.

Pimentel said he finds it strange and appalling that police officers, with the connivance of the prosecutors, are still using the old Anti-Illegal Gambling Law, Presidential Decree 1602, in filing criminal charges against the offenders, when it has already been repealed and superseded by Republic Act 9287, enacted into law in April, 2004, which imposes longer prison terms and heavier fines.

The penalties on jueteng now are much greater than before. And yet, I understand, there are several cases around the nation where the charges were based upon the old law. That, to my mind, is extremely anomalous, he said.

The minority leader said there is no excuse for not enforcing RA 9287 because it was crafted and approved by Congress in response to the recommendation of the Philippine National Police for a stronger law against jueteng. Moreover, he said the police officers could not feign ignorance of the new law since it has been in effect for more than two years now.

Pimentel also expressed disappointment that Secretary Gonzalez was not aware about this malpractice, in which the fiscals and prosecutors under him were involved.

This is rather unfortunate if he (Gonzalez) only heard it now. Maybe, he has been hearing more about imaginary ghosts haunting the administration than the issue of jueteng, he said.

Pimentel said the dismal failure to implement the new Anti-Illegal Gambling Law partly explains why jueteng has staged a comeback in Luzon and other parts of the country.

He voiced suspicion that RA 9287 is not being implemented in exchange for payoff or protection money shelled out by jueteng lords to the police, local government executives and other public officials.

Pimentel said it is the height of irresponsibility if police officers tasked to implement the law are the very ones breaking the law.

I can only imagine that some people are using the justice system to make hay while the sun is up as it were, he said.

The sooner something is done about the problem the better. Otherwise, these jueteng lords will go scot-free. I hope that the secretary of justice will look into reports that these jueteng lords and the people working under them have been slapped very minimal fines under a law that is no longer existent.

Under PD 1602, issued during the martial law era by the late President Ferdinand Marcos, violators could be fined for as high as P4,000 to a maximum of P2,000 and can be imprisoned for only six months upon conviction.

But under RA 9287, maintainers, managers and operators of jueteng and other forms of illegal gambling may be meted prison term of 12 to 14 years. Supervisors and collectors of underground gambling may be jailed from six to 12 years. Jueteng operators and manager can be fined for P3 million to P5 million.

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