Wednesday, May 25, 2005

NR0525:Jueteng big fish getting away

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release May 25, 2005
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio,Chief of Staff
Cellphone number 09213907362

PNP picking on small-time jueteng cobradors while the big fish get away; members of the First Family should not be exempt from investigations

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Macapagal-Arroyo administration's crackdown on jueteng cobradors was a pathetic move and weak ploy to cover up for the national government's general failure to stop jueteng operations in the country.

"The PNP is picking on the little people, arresting small-time cobradors while the big fish get away," he said. "The jueteng collectors are far from being the masterminds of the massive jueteng syndicates, but it's them the authorities are focusing on. It's quite possible that the collectors are mostly willing to reveal who their bosses are and the trail will lead to higher offices, but is the PNP making any big-time arrests? We don't see that coming. Clearly, the syndicate heads are powerful enough to be untouchable and beyond the reach of the police," he said.

"Now here we're hearing that the likes of Rep. Mikey Arroyo and first Gentleman Mike Arroyo, both of whom are being accused of being jueteng lords and protectors of jueteng syndicates, are being allowed to leave the country and are essentially being excused from the senate and congressional investigations.

"If they're not guilty, and if they have nothing to hide, then they should not be afraid to attend the investigations and allow themselves to be questioned. The allegations against them continue and worsen because they themselves have not given full explanations to clear their names. They must be reminded that members of the First Family or not, they are not above official public scrutiny," he said. "Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's own credibility is also being put in the spotlight: they cannot simply issue denials and dismiss the matter," he said.

Beltran said that if many poor Filipinos were relying on the illegal numbers game, it's because the national government has failed to provide them with sufficient livelihood and denied them other basic services such as education.

"This is why it's even a greater outrage that rich, influential and powerful individuals within the local government units and even higher offices of the bureaucracy are taking advantage of the people's poverty and making them their gambling foot-soldiers," he said.

Beltran said that church leaders and government officials who are speaking out against jueteng, in the meantime, should be accorded full protection. "For all we know, many witnesses to the proliferation of jeuteng are afraid to come forward and expose those who run the syndicates because their lives are being threatened. These jueteng investigations should not be allowed to conclude without any of the big fish being reeled in," he said.#


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