Sow Not On The Devil's Ground


Editorial, Inquirer.net

The senate hearing on jueteng has turned out to be a disaster for Interior Undersecretary Rico E. Puno, and it threatens to produce another disaster for the entire nation.

Still reeling from the embarrassment over the failed hostage rescue attempt last Aug. 23, Puno found himself again in the center of another controversy when his name landed on a list submitted by retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz to the Senate as one of the “ultimate recipients” of jueteng payola. Puno, who is in charge of police matters in the Department of Interior and Local Government, may have been wrongly accused, but he did not help disabuse suspicious minds with his evasive answers during the Senate hearing last Sept. 21.

Questioned by senators, Puno admitted that “friends and local officials” had tried to set up a meeting between him and some jueteng operators. At first he refused to identify the operators, saying that revealing their names would put to waste “months of surveillance” undertaken by the police, but later admitted that one of them was Bong Pineda, the husband of the Pampanga governor. However, Puno was adamant in refusing to name the operators’ intermediaries, lamely explaining that he could not remember their names anymore since he received so many visitors during the two months or so that he has been in his post. If only because there are now doubts about Puno’s integrity, President Aquino should seriously consider accepting his resignation.

But if Puno’s lack of candor was disappointing, the solution to the old illegal numbers game now being suggested by some senators is disturbing, to say the least. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada have revived the easy solution put forward by the President that jueteng brought down, Joseph Estrada, which is to legalize jueteng. This proposal reveals a sense of helplessness on the part of the Senate in upholding the law when criminal syndicates put it to a test. The call sounds like a declaration of surrender.

This illegal numbers game, the argument goes, has been around since time immemorial and has persisted despite countless attempts to stamp it out. If we allow the rich their excessively wasteful vices, why not let the poor enjoy some of their small indulgences? Besides, without jueteng, thousands of rural families who rely on this illegal numbers racket for livelihood will die of hunger.

We disagree. We are with Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Krusada Laban sa Jueteng in saying that jueteng can be stopped. Cruz says it’s just a matter of cutting off its “two legs” that bring it from one house to another, with impunity: the local officials and the police officers who tolerate or protect its operations. And he points to the communities in the country where jueteng (or masiao) can’t proliferate to prove this.

Indeed, jueteng must be stopped. Not just because like all forms of gambling, it erodes a people’s cultural and moral foundations and corrupts social institutions, including the Church, but more importantly because, contrary to what some people say that it is the least destructive of all forms of gambling, it is the worst.

First of all, it strikes into the very heart of our society, the family. Other games of chance draw “walk-in” bettors. This one is door-to-door pick-up and delivery. Nobody makes a living from visiting the houses of the poor and inviting them to a casino or to a game of tong-its or mahjjong.

Second, it is oppressive, of the poor most especially. In fact, it primarily targets the poor. Worse, it is a con game. Jueteng is not a game of chance, or a game of luck. The winning numbers are pre-selected before each draw, depending on which combination of numbers the smallest bet has been placed.

It is open even to the poorest man who is foolish enough to part with the last centavos in his pocket and to risk losing his family’s next meal for the chance to win in a game that is heavily stacked against him. Jueteng impoverishes the poor even more only to make the jueteng bosses super-rich, while the collectors doing the dirty work can’t provide their families a decent existence.

Simply put, jueteng victimizes the poor more than anybody. Legalizing it is tantamount to inviting them to entrust their day-to-day survival to chance. It is like legalizing deceit.

Gambling is pinning your hope on sure uncertainty. It is a clear manifestation of one's ignorance of God if one is an unbeliever. Or
if one claims to be a believer, it is an evidence of one's fake trust in God, particularly in God's ability to bless and to provide for people's needs.

Gambling is sowing your seeds on the devil's ground, and on this ground everything you sow grows and multiplies so quickly that in no time you reap nothing but a thousand fold of curses -- poverty, crime, corruption, destruction of families, etc.

Do you want true prosperity? Prove the Lord by sowing your seeds instead in His field.

[Malachi 3:10] "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

Except one thing, God needs nothing from us because He owns everything and has everything. What He needs from us is our faith in Him. To truly believe in the Lord through obedience to His word is the key to true prosperity. In other words, God's challenge to prove Him through our giving to Him is actually a test of our trust in Him. It is not the quantity of our giving that God is after but the quality of our heart towards Him. Isn't it true that when we truly love someone we give our best to that person? Likewise with God because in His economy love is the only currency and giving is its medium of exchange and prosperity is merely a side effect.

[Luke 6:38] “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be given to you. For with the same measure you measure it will be measured back to you.”

It is not only the temporal resources that gambling is able to take away from us -- wealth, health, time, family, etc. If gambling is not forsaken, ultimately it could steal away our faith in God and our future in eternity.


He Needs Our Support And Prayers

Anti-gambling bishop fears for his life after jueteng expose


Outspoken Archbishop Oscar Cruz admitted fears for his life after he identified in a Senate hearing the country’s alleged jueteng operators and protectors.

Cruz said those involved in the illegal numbers game are influential people, adding that he is afraid of possible revenge.

“Of course I’m afraid. There are shameless people so how can you stop worrying,” said the founder of the Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng.

Cruz identified Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno and retired Philippine National Police chief Jesus Verzosa as the two Aquino administration officials coddling jueteng operators by receiving monthly payola.

The anti-gambling crusader also revealed 10 more names during the investigation on the multi-million illegal lottery as jueteng lords, operators and beneficiaries of jueteng payola.

The 12 are: 1. Governor Baby Pineda in Pampanga; 2. Paul Dy in Isabela; 3. Retired general Eugene Martin; 4. Mayor Mauricio Domogan of Baguio; 5. Danny Soriano in Cagayan; 6. Retired General Padilla in Pasay, Parañaque, Muntinlupa and San Pedro; 7. Governor Amado Espino in Pangasinan; 8. Boy Jalandoni in Bacolod; 9. Eddie Fontanilla; and 10. Rey Cachuela.

The first eight names were named as jueteng lords and operators in their respective areas. Fontanilla, meanwhile, was identified as a collector on the ground while Cachuela was tagged as intermediate recipient.

The retired archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan said his group had already suffered big blows in giving information to the government so it could stop jueteng “which corrupts public officials.”

He said one of them has already been killed, referring to jueteng whistle-blower Wilfredo “Boy” Mayor, who was gunned down in Pasay City in February.

Last week, the prelate said he received a mail sent to his office at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in Intramuros, Manila. The bond paper has his face printed on it and with a note: “Shut up!”

To those people with the same conviction and advocacy as the bishop, it is time to join forces and fight with him against gambling in our country. Never to the legalization of "jueteng". The nation can win this fight if we put our individual strengths together.

Lord, let an avalanche of will and determination begin. Grant us the strength to stand against this Goliath for your name's sake. As you have shown your glory through David, be it so likewise as we stand to face this yet another of the many stubborn monsters in our land.


Media In Focus: Watching The Watchdogs


On Sept. 14, in the words of this paper (Philippine Daily Inquirer), “Senators led by former press freedom champion Joker Arroyo took turns browbeating messengers of bad news for allegedly tarnishing the country’s image with their reporting on the botched hostage rescue.” Eight Hong Kong nationals were massacred during the incident inside a bus parked in the Quirino Grandstand.

There were two issues at stake at the media hearings, although Arroyo attempts to make them one and the same. The first was the media’s lapses during the hostage crisis. On Aug. 23, news networks aired the crisis live on national television, making available information to the hostage-taker via a television inside the bus. ABS-CBN aired a blow-by-blow account of the situation, including assault positions, as well as live footage of the hostage-taker’s brother being arrested. TV5 reporter Erwin Tulfo, with fellow Radyo Mo Nationwide commentator Michael Rogas tied up the hostage-taker’s phone line in an increasingly tense 45-minute radio interview that ended with gunshots.

“We just wanted to talk to the hostage-negotiator first. We did not know that there were negotiations. We did not know that he would get angry. We were thrown into a situation that escalated into something that made even us nervous.”

It is true that the press failed to regulate itself, aggravating the situation for an already inept police force. There is a limit to press freedom, and even the lowest standard demands a respect for human life. Since the massacre, broadcast networks have committed to reform. GMA Network vice president for news programs, Jessica Soho, acknowledged that they could have performed better. ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs head Maria Ressa said during the hearing that they never expected that authorities would not be in control of the crisis situation, and said that belief was their failure as well. The concession was clear: inept leadership does not excuse journalistic irresponsibility.

Read full text: The Joker by Patricia Evangelista, Inquirer.net

"Maybe it is the media that has us divided." --Laura Bush

“The media's the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” --Malcolm X

“All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgerize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level.” --William Bernbach

“All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values.” --Marshall McLuhan

“The media tends to report rumors, speculations, and projections as facts... How does the media do this? By quoting some 'expert'... you can always find some expert who will say something hopelessly hopeless about anything.” --Peter McWilliams

“The media's power is frail. Without the people's support, it can be shut off with the ease of turning a light switch.” --Corazon C. Aquino

“For a politician to complain about the press is like a ship's captain complaining about the sea.” --Enoch Powell

“In day-to-day commerce, television is not so much interested in the business of communications as in the business of delivering audiences to advertisers. People are the merchandise, not the shows. The shows are merely the bait.” --Les Brown

“People in the media say they must look at the president with a microscope. Now, I don't mind a microscope, but boy, when they use a proctoscope, that's going too far.” --Richard M. Nixon

"Whoever controls the media, controls the mind." --Jim Morrison

"Ought we not to ask the media to agree among themselves a voluntary code of conduct, under which they would not say or show anything which could assist the terrorists' morale or their cause while the hijack lasted." --Margaret Thatcher

"These days politics, religion, media seem to get all mixed up. Television became the new religion a long time back and the media has taken over." --Van Morrison

"The question confronting the Church today is not any longer whether the man in the street can grasp a religious message, but how to employ the communications media so as to let him have the full impact of the Gospel message." --Pope John Paul II


Ang Dasal, Sana Maghilum Ang Sugat Ng Nakaraan


A single oversight
Should not make you feel
All the anger inside your heart
We did not wish for this to happen

We understand that you've been hurt
All we're asking for is forgiveness
As we extend our hands to you in goodwill

We wish you'd open your heart once again
We feel your sadness and grief
Now we plead for us to be heard
Our apologies we pray you'd accept

We join our hands in prayer for forgiveness
Waiting for a new day to come
Now we plead for us to be heard
Our apologies we pray you'd accept

We are a loving race
Loyal heroes of our land
Believing in the good hearts of our people
Condemning what is wrong

-- Ryan Enriquez


There Are Days And There Are Nights

Palace: President cannot remain 'worried' over hostage incident


Malacañang said President Benigno Simeon Aquino III remains "concerned" over the hostage crisis in Manila last week but can no longer afford to remain worried about the consequences of the incident.

Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio Coloma said while Aquino is still concerned about the hostage incident, he also has to focus on the other problems facing the nation.

“Di pwede sa worrying mode palagi ang isang leader, kailangan nakatutok ang attention sa darating sa kinabukasan. Kailangan naka-focus sa paghanap ng solution, di magiging productive kung palaging worried," Coloma said in an interview on dzXL radio.

(A leader cannot remain in worrying mode indefinitely. He must keep his attention on other problems. He must focus on finding solutions to these problems. Worrying will mess up his productivity.)

On August 23, a dismissed senior police inspector, Rolando Mendoza, hijacked a bus in front of the Quirino Grandstand in Manila and held hostage 21 Hong Kong tourists and four Filipinos. After an 11-hour standoff, Mendoza and eight Hong Kong tourists were killed.

“Siguro ang tamang salita ay concerned sapagka’t dapat naman ay yung ganung concern dahil seryoso ang kaganapang nangyari. Pero I don’t think tama ang salitang worried. Ito ay bahagi ng hamon na kinakaharap," he said.

(Perhaps the right word to describe Aquino is concerned. He remains concerned over such a serious situation. But I don’t think it is right to say he remains worried because such things are part of the challenges he faces as a leader.)

Coloma said the Aquino government has already taken steps to heal the wounds between the Philippines and Hong Kong after last week's hostage crisis.

“Ang importante dito ang maging makatwiran at makatarungan ang mga aksyon ng pangulo, di dinadaan sa pabilisan lamang (What is important is that the president’s moves are proper and not necessarily rushed)," he said.

The world keeps on turning.