Solving the problem of jueteng especially in our rural communities is more complex than just arresting the people behind it. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that widespread poverty across our country is a major cause of why this illegal numbers game continues to thrive. Jueteng doesn’t only provide a possible albeit very slim chance of escaping poverty but it also provides an alternative source of income to thousands of Filipinos who are employed as “kabos” or “kubradors”.
In a predominantly agricultural country where approximately 8-9 million Filipinos work as farmers or fishermen, it is important that they are able to sell their products at a competitive price to allow them to earn enough which will eventually lead to an improvement of their quality of life. Yet, the opposite is happening right now as the rampant smuggling of rice, corn and sugar from neighboring countries such as China and Vietnam have drastically lowered the prices of their locally produced counterparts.Thus, many farmers do not anymore earn much or worse, even recoup their costs when they sell their harvest. During the last SONA, even President Noynoy Aquino lamented that they discovered millions of metric tons of imported rice that were left to rot and haven’t been sold or distributed to hungry families. This drastic reduce in the prices of palay and rice has led many of our farmers to totally abandon their trade and look for alternative sources of income such as jueteng. This has also led to our food security problem which has embarrassingly forced us to become the biggest rice importer in the whole world.
Thus, I believe that the job of eradicating jueteng should not only fall on the shoulders of our Kaya Natin! Movement’s co-founder, DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo and PNP Chief Jesus Verzosa but it will also need the cooperation and synergy of other government agencies particularly the Bureau of Customs and the Department of Agriculture.