Jueteng and Pork Barrel

JUETENG

Did you know that jueteng has been with us for the last 100 years? Some historians may dispute this, as some kind of lottery was already mentioned by Jose Rizal in one of his writings. And when you say circa Rizal, you are talking of the 19th century or 200 years ago!

Anyway we found an official record from the Philippine Reports (compilation of Supreme Court decisions from 1900 to 1972) about the disposition of the highest tribunal during the American occupation of a criminal case which is all about jueteng! Jueteng first appeared in our jurisprudence on March 21, 1905:

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 1654            March 21, 1905

THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
FELIX MABIRAL, ET AL., defendants-appellants.

Marcelo Caringal for appellants.
Office of the Solicitor-General Araneta for appellee.

CARSON, J.:

The appellants in this case were found guilty in the trial court of juego prohibido (unlawful gambling) and sentence of two months’ imprisonment and a fine of 625 pesetas was imposed upon Felix Mabiral; and imprisonment for one month and one day and a fine of 325 pesetas was imposed upon Rufina Goco.

Counsel for appellants urges that the complaint filed in the cause was insufficient and fatally defective in form and substance, but we do not think that any substantial right of the accused was prejudiced thereby, as prior to entering upon the trial, and without objection from the defense, the fiscal filed an information in the following terms:

In the Court of First Instance of the Fifth Judicial District of the Province of Rizal. April 3, 1903.

The undersigned accuses Felix Mabiral and Rufina Goco of the crime of juego prohibido, committed under the following circumstances: That the said accused on the morning of the 24th of last March played the prohibited game of chance known as jueteng, the said Felix Mabiral as owner of the game and banker and the said Rufina as player, the game being had in the house of the first mentioned, situated in the town of Malabon, in the Province of Rizal, said house being publicly dedicated to gambling.

It was on this information the trial was had, and we are of opinion that it was sufficient in form and substance.

The evidence in the record fully sustains the finding of the court and establishes the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt.

The sentence appealed from should be affirmed, with the costs of both instances against the appellants, but with the modification that the imprisonment imposed therein should be specified as arresto mayor in accordance with the provisions of article 343, Penal Code. So ordered.

Arellano, C.J., Torres, Mapa and Johnson, JJ., concur.

The criminal information was dated April 3, 1903, (101 years ago) but the two accused were apparently apprehended for the crime of juego prohibido better known then and now as jueteng, on March 24, 1903. The two accused Felix Mabiral and Rufina Goco appeared to be big fishes with the former arrested as the banker and maintainer, whereas the latter a player of the verboten game. Just what exactly a player means was not described by the American ponente, but it looks like the second accused was a bettor plain and simple. As an aside, notice that the case was handled for decision by an American jurist in that era. Perhaps his Filipino counterparts were embarrassed in even handling the case for erudite disposal which was obviously a measly misdemeanour and yet it reached the highest court. Or, out of delicadeza if any of them was on the take from the operator. In today’s dispersal of intellegencia even the judges have their allotments, except a few who openly refuse them. Certainly Spouses Magbuhos were not even a glint in their parents’ eyes in 1903.

A couple of months later in March, 1905, another case reached the highest court on May 5, 1905, this time however the game was given a legal definition:

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 2188            May 5, 1905

THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
SANTIAGO PALMA, ET AL., defendants-appellants.

Juan M. Cue for appellants.
Office of the Solicitor-General Araneta for appellee.

WILLARD, J.:

The appellants were convicted of playing the game of hueteng in violation of article 343 of the Penal Code, Santiago Palma on the ground that he was the owner of the gambling house and Francisco Palma on the ground that he was a player.

The game of hueteng is described as follows by one of the witnesses for the Government:

There are thirty-seven balls numbered consecutively from 1 to 37. The persons recorded as collectors in the banker’s book go from house to house for the purpose of collecting the money for the pool. The person who gives money for the pool is required to state the number he desires to bet on; then the collector enters the name of the person so betting, giving the number and the amount of the bet and returns to the gambler a slip on which the number of the bet is written in pencil. After the collection is made, the collectors proceed to the banker’s house in order to deliver to him the money collected by them; then the banker makes an announcement to the public to whom he shows that there are only thirty-seven numbers, and which numbers he places in a receptacle. This receptacle, in some instances shaped like a bottle, and in others, like a small-necked phial, is shaken and the number or ball then extracted therefrom wins the prize (emphasis ours).

The appellant and twenty-six others were arrested in the house of Santiago Palma by the police and the evidence shows that they gathered around a table upon which was a bottle (tambiolo) with the balls already in it, envelopes with papers in them about 7 pesos in money, a box with papers in it, and a book.

There is no evidence in the case to show that the appellant Francisco Palma had made any bet upon the game. There is no evidence that his name appeared upon the book or that he was in possession of any ticket bearing any one of the thirty-seven numbers. The only proof against him is that he was a bystander. We do not understand that article 343 makes it an offense for one to be present in a gambling house. This appellant must accordingly be acquitted.

In order to convict the appellant Santiago Palma on the ground that he was the owner of a gambling house, it must be proved that he was maintaining a place devoted to that purpose. There is no evidence in the case to show that this game of hueteng or any other game had ever been played in his house before. This defendant produced a witness who testified that he lived very near the house of this appellant and that he had never seen people frequenting it for the purpose of gaming.

The apparatus required for the game of hueteng is very portable, and is of such a character that the game can be played almost anywhere. It does not require that a house or a room should be specially fitted up for the purpose, as is required for the playing of some other games of chance.

The decisions of this court are to the effect that the evidence in this case is insufficient to show that the house of this appellant was a gambling house within the meaning of article 343. (United States vs. Acuña, 1 Phil. Rep., 500; United States vs. Narvaes, 1 Phil. Rep., 36; United States vs. Reyes,1 2 Off. Gaz., 440; United States vs. Hilario Santiago,2 No. 1773, April 19, 1905.)

The judgment of the court below as to the appellants Santiago Palma and Francisco Palma is reversed, and these appellants are acquitted, with the costs of this instance de oficio.

Arellano, C.J., Torres, Mapa, Johnson and Carson, JJ., concur.

Again the ponente in the above cited case was an American jurist who spelled the illegal gambling incorrectly (hueteng instead of jueteng) without nary a comment from his Filipino collegues. This time however the accused were acquitted for the prosecution’s failure to prove that the house where they conduct their business was a gambling house. The concept of “guerrilla” operations probably was conjured this early since the court found that “the apparatus required for the game of hueteng is very portable, and is of such a character that the game can be played almost anywhere”.

Fast tracked to the 21st century and we have a sitting president driven out from office in a revolution and subsequently charged with the newly minted crime of plunder for siphoning jueteng money into the banking system thru a fictitious bank account. In the case of JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA, petitioner, vs. SANDIGANBAYAN (Third Division) and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. .[G.R. No. 148560. November 19, 2001], the former president was charged with the crime of plunder committed, among other crimes, as follows:

“The undersigned Ombudsman, Prosecutor and OIC-Director, EPIB, Office of the Ombudsman, hereby accuses former PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Joseph Ejercito Estrada, a.k.a. ‘ASIONG SALONGA’  and a.k.a. ‘JOSE VELARDE,’ together with Jose ‘Jinggoy’ Estrada, Charlie ‘Atong’ Ang, Edward Serapio, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Alma Alfaro, JOHN DOE  a.k.a. Eleuterio Tan OR Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, Jane Doe a.k.a. Delia Rajas, and John DOES & Jane Does, of the crime of Plunder, defined and penalized under R.A. No. 7080, as amended by Sec. 12 of R.A. No. 7659, committed as follows:

That during the period from June, 1998 to January 2001, in the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada, THEN A PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, by himself AND/OR in CONNIVANCE/CONSPIRACY with his co-accused, WHO ARE MEMBERS OF HIS FAMILY, RELATIVES BY AFFINITY OR CONSANGUINITY, BUSINESS ASSOCIATES, SUBORDINATES AND/OR OTHER PERSONS, BY TAKING UNDUE ADVANTAGE OF HIS OFFICIAL POSITION, AUTHORITY, RELATIONSHIP, CONNECTION, OR INFLUENCE, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally amass, accumulate and acquire BY HIMSELF, DIRECTLY  OR  INDIRECTLY,  ill-gotten wealth in the aggregate amount or TOTAL VALUE of FOUR BILLION NINETY SEVEN MILLION EIGHT HUNDRED FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE PESOS AND SEVENTEEN CENTAVOS (P4,097,804,173.17), more or less, THEREBY UNJUSTLY ENRICHING HIMSELF OR THEMSELVES AT THE EXPENSE AND TO THE DAMAGE OF THE FILIPINO PEOPLE AND THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, through ANY OR A combination OR A series of overt OR criminal acts, OR SIMILAR SCHEMES OR MEANS, described as follows:

(a)                       by receiving OR collecting, directly or indirectly, on SEVERAL INSTANCES, MONEY IN THE AGGREGATE AMOUNT OF FIVE HUNDRED FORTY-FIVE MILLION PESOS (P545,000,000.00), MORE OR LESS, FROM ILLEGAL GAMBLING IN THE FORM OF GIFT, SHARE, PERCENTAGE, KICKBACK OR ANY FORM OF PECUNIARY BENEFIT, BY HIMSELF AND/OR in connection with co-accused CHARLIE ‘ATONG’ ANG, Jose ‘Jinggoy’ Estrada, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Edward Serapio, AND JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES, in consideration OF TOLERATION OR PROTECTION OF ILLEGAL GAMBLING; XXX

While in this recent vintage case jueteng was not mentioned it is understood as included in the generic phrase “illegal gambling” where the gross take now amounted to P545, 000,000.00! Whereas in the Mabiral and Palma cases they involved a measly fine of 625 pesetas in the former, and in the latter, 7 pesos was confiscated. (By the way, who takes the quota for the President? Remember that Erap amassed near a billion pesos when Chavit blew the whistle. Basic arithmetic tells us that from January 11, 2001 when Gloria took over, jueteng was never abated. The elementary question Mr. Watson is in whose pocket the monthly payola of P50M meant for the President goes? Never ask Joe Pidal)

There is anecdotal evidence that the monthly take of local officials ranges from P1.8M for the province and the city, to P100, 000.00 to P500, 000.00 in small and larger towns hereabouts. This amount is doubled if we include the allotment for the police.

Given these facts,  this writer is handling a criminal case of perjury lodged by a local official against a TV-Radio station manager for testifying in court that she is aware that jueteng thrives in Quezon Province and its unrelenting operation is with the tacit tolerance of its local officials. When asked if she is aware whether the local officials are on the take from jueteng operators, the station manager answered, “in all probability, since jueteng continues unabated”. For that she was charged criminally by the local chief for allegedly falsely testifying against him. The station manager, being a broadcaster herself was certainly motivated by good faith and her steadfast belief in her mission of keeping the people well-informed. The lady station executive is an advocate of the “broken windows theory” where little larcenies must be made public otherwise these will lead to larger thievery.

James Q. Wilson and George Kelling developed the `broken windows’ thesis to explain the signaling function of neighborhood characteristics. This thesis suggests that the following sequence of events can be expected in deteriorating neighborhoods. Evidence of decay (accumulated trash, broken windows, deteriorated building exteriors) remains in the neighborhood for a reasonably long period of time. People who live and work in the area feel more vulnerable and begin to withdraw. They become less willing to intervene to maintain public order (for example, to attempt to break up groups of rowdy teens loitering on street corners) or to address physical signs of deterioration.

Sensing this, teens and other possible offenders become bolder and intensify their harassment and vandalism. Residents become yet more fearful and withdraw further from community involvement and upkeep. This atmosphere then attracts offenders from outside the area, who sense that it has become a vulnerable and less risky site for crime.

In the same manner that where we to ignore insignificant infractions by local officials by equally ignoring their monthly takes from jueteng operators, these unscrupulous local leaders become bolder by raiding the public coffers as what they have been doing for the last 100 years. We closed our eyes for the last 100 years!

The proliferation of jueteng and its seeming acceptance by the people as a “fact of life, part of our culture” has emboldened criminal minds to enter politics and operate with impunity whatever illegal activities come to mind like drug dealing, smuggling, jueteng, illegal logging, outright stealing of public funds thru ghost projects, etc.

A jueteng operator can bet his bottom peso in politics for after all give him another couple of years and he recovers his investment. Who is the sane man who will gamble his hard-earned money in mendicancy-politics in this country?

There is this story in Batangas where the winning provincial executive dared his closest rival during the last elections to cook rice in the town plaza by using their money as fuel; the one who runs out of kindling is the loser. In another CALABARZON province, the bishop is the protector of the gambling lord. Try wrestling the franchise away from the incumbent and rest assured that the bishop would come knocking out the new entrant.

There was one Mayor in Laguna who thought that he could get away with rape, and another with Murder. Because after all nobody complains and the environment becomes less risky site for all you-name-it crimes.

And there lies the irony. When one becomes a beneficiary of jueteng, he learns to justify it. Thus, when ones hears a police officer or a governor lectures that jueteng can be licked only with the help of the citizens, or if only the people will not patronize it, or that it is a form of livelihood to the cubradores and the revisadores, or how can we abate it when it is operated “guerrilla” style or when no less than the Presidential Spokesman dares an outspoken bishop to name names, take comfort they are on the take. Operators come and go, they become sick and die, only to be replaced with another and go on to become millionaires. Have you heard of one cubrador who sent all his children to college or went on to become a successful entrepreneur and transformed himself as a respectable member of the community? Not on your life. Whereas operators become millionaires millions times over by becoming even richer while the lowly cubradores are deeply entrenched in debt. We all saw this for the last 100 years and we have the records for that and yet we ignore them and we repeat and repeat the sad lessons of the past. We always believe that the world began when we were born.

It is those corrupt officials and media men who are on the bluebook who want jueteng underground. Ironically, the operators (in fairness to them) want their business legalized. Did you know that at one time they banded themselves together and were ready to go to Congress and plead their cause for legalization? They chose the lady from Quezon as their mouthpiece because she has something between her ears. But what did you know? Soon the vultures learned that they were acting as a group they arrested them one by one and were charged for violation of all imaginable gambling laws and for allegedly admitting in public that they are engaged in gambling before the Department of Justice. The lady confessed that she is sick and tired of all the hypocrisy, the double-entendres, the blackmails, the hard sells, where the bottomline is pure and simple shakedown. She has been thinking loudly these days of coming out above ground and pay taxes to the government helping in the process easing the fiscal crisis. But the gravy that is the intellegencia is just too tempting to let go. So the sitting officials, the moneybags,  and the police directors are the first plank opposing her plan. In Quezon alone the intellegencia amounts to Php30, 000.000.00 a month, inclusive of the local officials of 40 towns and one city, and the police chiefs and their director and the local media. In one year, these barnacles pocket Php360, 000,000.00. From 1998 upon Erap’s election, jueteng is unabated hereabouts, hence, for the last six years the lady has coughed up Php2, 160,000,000.00! multiply that with 79 provinces and 116 cities (source: National Statistical Coordination Board, www.nscb.gov.ph) or 195 LGUs tolerating jueteng, using Quezon as the average, then the monthly take is Php5,850,000,000.00. And the annual theft in intellegencia is Php70, 200,000,000.00! For the last six years: Php421, 200,000,000.00! Let us say that this figure is exaggerated, then halve it by all means and you still get Php210,600,000,000.00, enough to plug the haemorrhaging deficit. Move over Pagcor and PCSO. After all legal lottery, as one sage said, is voluntary taxation.

By coincidence, the City Government of Lucena filed an Injunction before the local court asking for the ban of the TV-radio station on air and the case number assigned to it was Civil Case No. 1-37? This is where the lady station manager testified on the proliferation of jueteng in the City and in the province and for her crusade, she was haled in a criminal court. The City Prosecutor unbelievably filed the case in court and ignored the 100 years existence of jueteng, the 1-37 game in Lucena City!

Drug busts, as a reminder, are nothing but squid tactics to divert national attention from jueteng. Once the heat is on jueteng, all imaginable drug blah-blahs are on the run. Jueteng, SOPs, and drug takes, are veritable valves in our volcanic society. Close one and the two others open. Close all and GMA says it can’t simply be done.

PORK BARREL Pork barrel (or pork barrel politics) is a derogatory term used to describe government spending that is intended to enrich constituents of a politician in return for their political support, either in the form of campaign contributions or votes. Typically it involves funding for government programs whose economic or service benefits are concentrated but whose costs are spread among all taxpayers. Military spending, public works projects and agricultural subsidies are the most commonly cited examples, but do not exhaust the possibilities. Pork barreling is an important explanation for government deficits.

One of the earliest examples of pork barrel politics was the Bonus Bill of 1817, which was introduced by John Calhoun to construct highways linking the East and South of the United States to its Western frontier using the earnings Bonus from the Second Bank of the United States. Calhoun argued for it using general welfare and post roads clauses of the United States Constitution. Although he approved of the economic development goal, President James Madison vetoed the bill as unconstitutional. Since then however, U.S. presidents have seen the political advantage of pork barrel politics.

The term is derived from the notion of the government giving every voter a barrel of pork. Smoked pork products were, at one time, shipped in barrels. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pork_barrel]

Notice that pork barrel was of American origin circa 1817. Certainly we have learned from American experience. From our history books we learned that pork barrel was given only to legislators who are partymates of the Chief Executive. Or to any solon who proves himself to be championing the agenda of the President. Otherwise, one scrapes the barrel for crumbs and is apologetic to his constituents come election time. “Kalaban ako ng Presidente kaya walang proyekto”. But these legislators are the real oppositionists, the darling of the people who exposed all imaginable  scandal in government. Remember the immoral insertion of the Parity Rights in the 1935 Constitution, the Golden Orinola, the Tatalon Estate scandal, the bluebook of Stonehill, the Haruta file, the Jabidah massacre, Oplan Saggitarius, etc? Lorenzo M. Tanada for one did not need pork to be remembered as a great statesman from the Senate. Certainly Tanada did not feed or send his children to school from “katas ng SOP”, whereas we see our Congressmen today circa 2004 strutting in their Jaguars, mansions in Forbes and Alabang, with  voluptuous escort women as “katas ng katas”.

But since the world began when they were born so did the COUNTRYSIDE DEVELOPMENT FUND  or its equivalent. It was not sheer genius but sheer perfidy when a Bicol congressman and a former Budget Department bigwig invented the CDF so that all legislators of all colors and persuasion have their share of the action. The CDF has morphed into a personal bounty for the lawmaker, an ante from the President.

Local officials followed suit that even a barangay kagawad was given by the Kapitan what passes off as a CDF in exchange for some vote in the dispersal of the measly 20% development fund. The CDF became practically the pocket money of many a Tonggressman or Fiftypercentative.

Now that the pork barrel faces extinction or diminution, there will be mass exodus of these legislators at the doorstep of the lady in Sao Paolo. Bong Pineda and his ilks are getting scarce these days. Come 2007, there will be a battle royale of the Lords of the Rings: gambling ring, drug ring, kickback ring.

Because of the CDF and jueteng we burn ourselves at both ends. Right now we are wondering why we are in the middle of a fiscal crisis. Who led us to it is no longer a mystery. Not much happened in 100 years.

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