By Cielito M. Reganit
Two lawmakers on Tuesday supported Malacanang’s move to put an end to small-town lottery (STL) operations as they agreed that this had utterly failed to curb the proliferation of illegal numbers games, most especially “jueteng.”
Western Samar Rep. Senen Sarmiento and Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) Party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna conceded that rather than stamp out jueteng and other variants of illegal numbers game, STL had instead become a cover for jueteng operators.
Sarmiento said it was now the second time that STL had been introduced and had failed in both times to curtail jueteng operations.
“These failures attest to the “gambling” mindset pervading society. Gambling is not easy to address,” the Samar lawmaker ruled.
However, he said that there are lessons to be learned from STL, especially since the President had announced that a new game would be introduced to replace it.
Sarmiento said that Loterya ng Bayan, a variant of STL that PCSO had been for some time now trying to get the nod from lawmakers, might be more effective in combating jueteng.
“As congressmen, our duty is to regulate. We should come out with regulations that would hopefully restrain the culture of gamblling,” he said.
“More importantly, we must make sure that Loterya ng Bayan must not be used as a front for jueteng like what STL had become,” Sarmiento stressed.
Meanwhile, Tugna said he supports President Aquino’s decision to stop STL because of his personal opposition to legalizing jueteng or any numbers game.
“What is needed to stop jueteng is a firm resolve, the political will from local government officials and the police to do away with ‘payola’,” he said.
But despite his individual opposition to any numbers game, legal or otherwise, the party-list lawmaker admitted that he sees in Loterya ng Bayan a more transparent system of monitoring the revenues collected, making it less vulnerable to graft.