Palace: We are trying to combat jueteng
MANILA - Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said it is not true that the Aquino administration has not done anything to combat jueteng.
He said that even before Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo died, he had been working on an integrated approach to combat jueteng.
He said Robredo had looked into jueteng in the Bicol region, adding that jueteng has been "expunged" in some areas but did not specify where. He also pointed out that cases have been filed.
"The policy of the President which Secretary Jesse Robredo was supposed to have implemented was an integrated approach to combating jueteng. Part of that is also the approach on the lottery… STL [Small Town Lottery] by changing the loterya ng bayan. So there's an integrated approach to combating jueteng… Secretary Jesse Robredo… before he passed [away], he was looking into the jueteng in Camarines in the Bicol region, I think… It's not accurate to say that we were not doing anything on jueteng," Lacierda said.
He added that the government is planning to replace small town lottery (STL), which he said has been proven as an ineffective alternative to counter jueteng.
"It has proven not to be effective. That's the reason why… we have to replace STL… It was implemented with the purpose of combating jueteng. Apparently, it is not doing its job of combating jueteng. That's why we need to find a replacement or alternative to STL. And we're looking, and the PCSO is studying it, the DILG, prior to the passing of Jesse, was also looking into it," Lacierda said.
Lacierda doesn't know if Puno was being investigated on alleged jueteng involvement.
Lacierda also said he has no information if it's true that the President reportedly had already asked former Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno to resign two months ago or before the State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Lacierda said Puno resigned to give incoming DILG Secretary Mar Roxas the free hand to form his team. Asked when the President had spoken to Puno and questioned the bidding process for the rifles, Lacierda said he does not know when.
Palace willing to help Senate probe
Meantime, Lacierda said the Palace was ready and willing to cooperate in the Senate investigation but said that the Palace only wanted to clarify the scope of the investigation and the questions that would be posed to the Cabinet secretaries invited. He also cited the cluster meeting at the Palace that some of the secretaries had to attend.
"We are ready to cooperate, we are willing to cooperate. However, there are certain rules that we would like to clarify," Lacierda said, then quoted from the letter that the Palace sent to the Senate.
"'In the interest of providing your honor with input on the issues to be raised in the committee hearings, we would be grateful if the committee would enlighten us on the following: factual antecedents surrounding the subject matter of the inquiry; individual questions that maybe raised to the Cabinet secretaries; specific provisions of law; and intended objectives of the inquiry.' They just wanted a clarification and enlightenment on this, and certainly, the Executive branch will cooperate," Lacierda said.