Press Release
September 27, 2010


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, following her Senate privilege speech on jueteng, said that Palace officials should not only probe jueteng operators, governors, and mayors, but in addition, should study the proposal to legalize jueteng.

Santiago, who is on continued sick leave, gave a rare interview to Radyo Bombo, Iloilo City, today, which was broadcast nationwide.

In her privilege speech, Santiago pointed to the example in the United States which passed a constitutional amendment upholding the Prohibition Act Against Liquor, but subsequently repealed the amendment to legalize liquor.

"There are occasions when government, seeking to prohibit absolutely, finds the law impossible to enforce. If we cannot prohibit, should we not regulate?" Santiago said.

"Various Philippine presidents have come and gone, but illegal jueteng remains. No administration has yet succeeded in sending a gambling lord to jail," she said. "If so, should we not settle for regulating jueteng, instead of abolishing it on paper, without any realistic hope of success on the ground?"

According to Santiago, Congress should consider legalization because the prohibition of jueteng has merely increased its reach and volume; led to the perennial criminal conspiracy between the Interior and Local Government Secretary and the PNP chief; and has enabled jueteng operators, through their untaxed wealth and major campaign contributions, to control the winners in local and national elections.

The senator likewise said that STL or small town lottery, which was supposed to be an alternative to jueteng, is a failure.

"Only 10 to 15 percent of STL earnings go to the government. The rest of the earnings actually go to jueteng," she revealed.

Santiago said that government can impose high fees on jueteng and earn huge taxes for the cash-strapped government instead of incurring more foreign debt.

The senator said that the government's mandate on jueteng is clear: to enforce the law on jueteng or to legalize it.

Further, Santiago said that any debate on the legalization of jueteng will include a discussion on the pros and cons of gambling itself.

She said that those who favor legalized gambling say that gambling is harmless fun and provides an escape from the harshness of life. Gambling also merely follows the law of supply and demand, and is not itself immoral because people could be addicted to other things.

On the other hand, Filipinos who are against gambling argue that it is immoral because it gives false hopes to those least able to afford the financial outlay involved. Gambling is also addictive and results in anti-social behavior, financial ruin, and crime; inculcates materialistic values in society resulting to destroyed marriages, families, and friendships; and offers wealth by chance, instead of by skill, industry, or merit.

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