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(BY: REV. BERLIE G. YAP) All forms of gambling can be illegal except if it is sanctioned by the State. How? By appropriating the necessary licenses to operate such, then it can be called, already, legal. To bet, somehow, is already congenital to many Filipinos, thus, the State must regulate them to maintain order for the common welfare of the people.

This process of the cycle is called police power. Same police power is inherent to every State, and its power to regulate lies in the hands of the legislative—the Congress or the City/Municipal Council in the case to enact local ordinances.

Are there how many legal cockpits operating in Zamboanga? These same entities generate good income for the City, by virtue of their registration. On given or certain times, as allowed by the City government, cockfight schedules happen, and they are flocked by hundreds of regular customers and also visitors from neighbour towns and provinces all over, especially when it is a derbe marathon.

Money in these places flood by the thousands or even millions while inside you can find different kinds of people—Chinese businessmen, ordinary individuals, politicians, military servicemen and also policemen. Each would consolidate to play and lay their bets as he excuses that he is there only to unwind!

Cockfighting has already been a historical “past-time” by the Filipinos which they inherited, or rather learnt, from the colonizing Spaniards. After 500 years, there seems to have no change yet to this transferred habit amongst Filipinos. A hooked gambler would even be willing to sacrifice everything, including his family just to be able to bet. Well, if you know, in the eyes of the law nothing is wrong to it, so long as it is legal.

The problem happens, though, when players perform their cockfights underground—meaning unlicensed! Worse if those betting are from the authorities or policemen themselves. One can quite doubt if this could possibly happen, and yup! It sure did, only very recently!

The Sta. Maria police conducted a surprise bust to a group of gamblers betting illegal cockfighting in Pasonanca. Law enforcers were dumbfounded however, when they learnt that one of those apprehended is also a police officer himself!

Well, dura lex sed lex—the law is harsh, but it is the law. Those good uniformed men could not compromise their profession by helping their colleague who was caught committing an offense. What was the choice of those Sta. Maria policemen then, none but to bring those offenders to the station’s cell and be processed, including the arrested officer!

Barangay eMedia paid also a visit to the Sta. Maria Police Station prison cell to ask the arrested policeman, at least, that he could speak the side of his story why was he there. By giving him the benefit of the doubt, he could be there for a mission order or something. But he preferred not to speak and only to remain his silence.

The participation of that policeman, believably, embarrassed the ranks of the City police. Until when can we hear public officers to be involving to illegal acts? There transgressions gradually water-down the trust of the civilians, thus, tempting them, too, to commit more errors.

However, ladies and gentlemen, it ain’t a permission to break the law because some or just a handful of the enforcers are also crooks. Nobody owns the law. The law is for everyone, and whoever may commit a crime or an offense can be liable. Nobody is above the law!

The cleansing amongst our uniformed men and public officers must continue would we want to see real progress in our land or in Zamboanga City, as results to honesty and transparency. We don’t want vigilante one day to again execute our laws in the streets only because of the failure of a handful rightful officers, who rather are the ones empowered by the law itself. For ours is a government of law and not of men.

Enough is enough to hear police officers involving into drugs, gun-running, illegal gambling, even the driving of a single motorcycle without helmets and etc. Let’s have real police professionals, whose dedication and life are clean and are true defenders of the law.

One can play around to fool others but never to Him who is up there. Wrong acts could be around but only for awhile. They are like grass which withers away when the sun is up.

Just a reminder, “For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” Luke 8:17 ESV

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