STL starts in South Cotabato amid opposition
KORONADAL CITY — Small Town Lottery (STL) operations started in this city and other areas in South Cotabato province despite strong opposition from local government and church leaders.
Cyrus Jose Urbano, city administrator, on Wednesday assailed JY Archers Game and Entertainment Corp. for operating the government-sanctioned numbers game without the consent of the local government.
“Even if the STL is covered by a national franchise, the operator needs to get a clearance from the Sangguniang Panlungsod [city council] before the start of the operation,” he said in a radio interview.
Lawyer Cherry Anne dela Cruz, speaking for JY Archers, earlier said the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office had authorized the company to operate STL in South Cotabato.
STL started in 2005 as part of the government’s drive to eradicate the illegal numbers game, “jueteng.”
The city council passed a resolution, authored by Councilor Edwin Abris, in October opposing the operation of STL in Koronadal, the South Cotabato capital and seat of government of the Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, General Santos City) region.
Abris said council members consulted Mayor Peter Miguel before approving the resolution. The mayor, Abris said, also opposed the entry of STL in the city.
More than 100 STL kiosks were seen being put up in this city and other areas in South Cotabato starting September, some of these near schools and churches.
Urbano said the city government had seized dozens of kiosks put up near schools and churches and those that obstructed roads.
He cited “concern for public welfare” as reason to the city government’s opposition to STL operations.
Dela Cruz said JY Archers was open to meet with city officials and other groups to discuss its operation.
Fr. Ariel Destora, Social Action Center director of the Diocese of Marbel, said the local Catholic Church was also against STL, noting that gambling promoted a culture of “misplaced priorities and leaving things to fate.”
“Instead of buying food for their family, some gamble their remaining money with the hope to win, even if the possibilities are very remote,” Destora said.
He said gambling could also result in addiction, which could “ruin the fabric of family values.” —Bong Sarmiento
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