Rico E. Puno alias Boy Cucumber-A A +A
By Max Sangil
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
FORMER Department of the Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico E. Puno, face-to-face with the feisty Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, was cool as a cucumber. In case you didn’t know, both can be said that they come from the province of Tarlac, the home province of President Benigno Simeon Aquino lll. The lady senator is married to former DILG Undersecretary Narciso Santiago, a Tarlaqueño. And Philippine National Police chief, General Nicanor Bartolome who appeared together with Puno, is also from the same province. It was all a Tarlac show at the Senate last week.
In this country, it is a waste of time discussing the jueteng controversy. Jueteng can't be stopped PERMANENTLY, even if there are a dozen Oscar Cruzes, the anti-jueteng crusader. It may stop temporarily, yes. It is foolish for officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office in coming out with different studies on how to supplant jueteng with a different lottery game. Sayang lang ang pera at oras sa pag-aaral.
One time l read a column of our cabalen, the known historian Ambeth Ocampo, detailing how our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal placed bets on jueteng when he was in exile in Dapitan, Zamboanga Del Norte. And because of his genius he always picked the right number combination. It was even said that many pieces of real estate properties were bought by our hero out of his winnings.
How can you stop jueteng when it is already a “cottage industry”? There are tens of thousands of families all over the country depending on it. The local executives are getting monthly grease money so they would be soft on their campaign against it. The local police departments, where there are jueteng operations in their areas of jurisdiction, sometimes stage moro-moro raids for blotter purposes. Most of them are in the weekly “payroll”. No wonder President Aquino said in an interview that going after jueteng operations is not a priority.
Even some media people, I suspect, are on the take. And others benefited from it in more ways than one.
When l was a young reporter, I remember Tatang Magno Pangilinan operated jueteng in Angeles, and my kabalae, Rene Reyes was one of his workers. During those years there was no “intelligentsia” given to either local police or elected officials. At the most they send “lechon” if the mayor or the chief of police was celebrating birthdays. Even that, I remember the late Angeles Mayor Rafael Lazatin refusing it and sending it back to the jueteng operator.
Many jueteng and gambling operators during the martial law years were ordered jailed by then strongman President Ferdinand Marcos. Even when they were jailed, their activities never stopped. Marcos, with all his martial law powers, held his two hands high in surrender. He freed the jailed operators and they went to their usual merry ways.
If ever the PCSO will come out with a new lottery game, most likely it will only be used as a cover by jueteng operators, just like how the STL or the experimental Small Town Lottery today is being used as a front. I hope PCSO Chair Margarita Juico, wife of my cousin Popoy, will read this column, so she will devote her time in doing more social services to the poor instead of wracking her brains on how ease to ease out jueteng.
Back to the senate and in the House of Representatives, the solons found no reason to question further Rico E. Puno alias Boy Cucumber. Rico's uncle, Jake Escalona, may have had a day laughing when he saw his nephew standing up versus Lady Miriam.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on September 18, 2012.