EDITORIAL - 'A lesser evil'.
EDITORIAL - 'A lesser evil' !-- -- (The Philippine Star) - June 29, 2019 - 12:00am Compared to the drug scourge, illegal gambling is the lesser evil, according to President Duterte. Still, jueteng, masiao and certain other numbers games remain illegal, and there are laws against them that must be enforced.
So it's good to hear Philippine National Police officials saying that they intend to enforce those laws, especially if the violation is brazen. Previous PNP officials have issued similar statements even as they acknowledged that some jueteng lords have contributed to limited police resources in the past.
Instead of looking the other way in the face of blatant violation of the law, President Duterte can prod his congressional allies to consider proposals to legalize and regulate jueteng. The illegal status of the game engenders corruption, which the President says he wants eradicated along with the drug menace.
Like drug trafficking, jueteng has also corrupted the political system and undermined elections. True, illegal gambling has generated employment especially in the countryside.
But so does drug trafficking, and it's still no excuse to tolerate the illegal activity. Providing jobs and livelihood opportunities to local communities allowed the drug cartels to thrive in Colombia and Mexico.
Kidnapping for ransom is a major cottage industry in Sulu and parts of Basilan, no doubt providing lucrative profits and livelihoods to those involved in it. Yet this is no excuse to tolerate the criminal act.
In a country where the government operates casinos, lotteries and its own version of jueteng, the national policy on all forms of gambling needs clarity. The proposal to legalize jueteng has been tossed around by policy makers for a long time.
Until jueteng is placed under state regulation, however, it will remain an illegal activity, no matter what the president of the republic may say. Illegal gambling may be a lesser evil, but it will still be evil a corrupting influence that gives its operators a prohibited edge when they launder their dirty money through politics.
And the PNP has a mandate to enforce the law, regardless of the degree of evil.