The opium of the masses

Money bag

Jueteng is an illegal numbers game in the Philippines.  The game is played by placing bets, and the bets are not huge.  In the deep hidden mansions of its operators are sacks of coins— five bucks, ten bucks, because the game is played by ordinary people. For the longest time, people have been up in arms against the numbers’ game.  The game has never really died.

It is a huge money making engine rivaled only by the euphoria of the masses at some religious event.

We call those running the illegal numbers game, Jueteng Lords, like something out of Star Wars. They’re open secrets to those living under their shadow. They’re Lords because like some mafia movie, they can be pretty benevolent.

Imagine the scene like something out of Hollywood. The house is huge, like some palace. The surrounding is opulent, but not extremely so. Outside armed guards patrol the grounds. Every hour on the hour, a group would climb into a Van, and patrol the village as if it was part of the perimeter.

Catholic nuns walking the entire length of a corridor leading up to the office of the Jueteng Lord.

“We came to ask for some donation, the local church badly needs repairs and the clinic is running out of supplies” a Catholic sister explained to the Jueteng Lord.

“Go ahead sister. Go to the next room and take how much you can carry.”

And the Catholic nuns would be taken to the next room and would lift sacks of coins onto their light truck and speed away.

Politicians from the highest to the lowest, from officials of the police to members of the clergy, have at some point or another been linked to the illegal numbers game.  To call the officials of government and clergy on their culpability in this as twisted or corrupt would be a misnomer.  Why would the norm be wrong?

Year in and year out, we talk about Jueteng.  Everybody knows it is illegal, but it is damn sure as hell being played by the masses, and no— to call them ignorant of the fact that too is a wrong assumption.

Jueteng in a nutshell is the opium of the massess.

The pretense is incredulous.

Why do the masses do it then?   Why do the masses gamble when they have so little already?  Why do people smoke when they’ve got nothing in their pocket?  Why is the government’s Lottery popular too?  The masses try their luck at a winning hand in the hopes of rising above poverty.  Five bucks after all— in anyone’s mind hardly means anything.  In other words, the price is right.  The entry level for Jueteng is so low that price isn’t an issue.

Is the answer then to raise the financial wellbeing of the massess?  People gamble when they are rich.  People gamble when they are poor.

The only one losing with the illegality of Jueteng is the national treasury. It never gets a cut.

Is the answer therefore— to make Jueteng legal?  Make gambling in the Philippines legal and then the government can come in and officially say, “we want our cut.”

Is the answer therefore moral or spiritual— make people realize that there are better ways to spend their time and their money on?

How then does one weed out the addiction of the masses?

Do we really need to, in the first place?

Jueteng is an opium of the masses.

Money bag, some rights reserved.

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.

  • Angelita Coronel

    I don’t really know how this Jueteng Game works but we all know that this is the devil’s tool. The devil uses his minions, namely: greed,(kasakiman), anger( poot) stupidity,(katangahan) jealousy,(inggit) complacency,(walang pakialam) fear,(takot), cowardice(kaduwagan) indolence(katamaran),lack of confidence(walang lakas ng loob) ignorance( (kamangmangan) which are all present within us. The Bible says,”the devil knows not because he is wise but because he is old”. It has been ruling the world since time without beginning!!!! But, like anything else, lahat ng bagay ay may katapat!!! All we have to do is wake up to the reality!!!huwag tayong padadala sa kasamaam!!!
    Tingnan natin ang sarili natin, bawat isa, kung gusto nating mabago ang ating bukas, itigil na natin ang dating gawi. Dapat sa loob natin manggagaling dahil walang makapagbabago sa atin kung hindi ang sarili natin.Kaya nabubuhay ang Jueteng dahil may mga taong mangmang, tanga, sakim, tamad, atbp., na tumataya. Bakit may mga nananalong kurap na opisyal? dahil mas maraming taong tanga, mangmang, tamad, sakim, atbp, na bumoboto sa kanila!!Simple lang, common sense, pero bakit hindi pa rin nagbabago?hindi na natuto?
    Puwede pang magbago, “kung hindi ako, sino pa?; kung hindi ngayon, kelan pa?”

  • lome

    Why don’t we make Gambling legal?
    fixing addiction like sudden withdrawal ,probably is not the right approach. Too many issues are involve.not only that but experiences are telling us that it wasn’t working..While the government is spending money to control it,the Church on the other hand is bending over,compromising,can’t openly declare war against it.Let’s face it,ordinary people against powerful Lord with some corrupt public servant backing . When you have these both Government and church compromising ? what do you expect an ordinary Pinoy will think?
    Especially the young minds ?The end justify the means ?

    The law of Moses allowed the Israelites to have more than one wife? But our Lord is saying ,that was in concession with the nature of men? God planned that a marriage should only be a union between man and a woman.

    Legal gambling is definitely ,spiritually speaking isn’t right but who is a saint among us?
    Legal gambling will allow more government participation hence,control.
    rules to be obeyed ect..taxes permit to operate ect.”much needed “REVENUES”
    Later some proceeds, with the participation of the church can educate the regular Pinoy about the evils of gambling.
    I know that lots won’t listen,but that is their individual decisions,an independent exercise of their free will.

  • lome

    Why don’t we make Gambling legal?
    fixing addiction like sudden withdrawal ,probably is not the right approach. Too many issues are involve.not only that but experiences are telling us that it wasn’t working..While the government is spending money to control it,the Church on the other hand is bending over,compromising,can’t openly declare war against it.Let’s face it,ordinary people against powerful Lord with some corrupt public servant backing . When you have these both Government and church compromising ? what do you expect an ordinary Pinoy will think?
    Especially the young minds ?The end justify the means ?

    The law of Moses allowed the Israelites to have more than one wife? But our Lord is saying ,that was in concession with the nature of men? God planned that a marriage should only be a union between man and a woman.

    Legal gambling is definitely ,spiritually speaking isn’t right but who is a saint among us?
    Legal gambling will allow more government participation hence,control.
    rules to be obeyed ect..taxes permit to operate ect.”much needed “REVENUES”
    Later some proceeds, with the participation of the church can educate the regular Pinoy about the evils of gambling.
    I know that lots won’t listen,but that is their individual decisions,an interdependent exorcise of their free will.

  • UP nn grad

    Robredo already says that in at least 8 provinces, jueteng activity has dropped 90% or more because the PNP-chief has scared the be-jeesus out of the local chiefs of police. “If we do a raid and there is jueteng in your jurisdiction, you’re fired!!!” is the threat, so lie low muna, matagal pa naman ang pasko.

    So key to reducing jueteng volume is police raids!!! When there are no police raids, sunday sermons and letter-writing to Rico Puno do not work.

  • manuel buencamino

    And you offer higher winnings.

  • manuel buencamino

    If you want to stop jueteng then you convince the bettors that they have better chances of winning in STL.