Arrest of STL operator pits governor vs police chief in South Cotabato
KORONADAL CITY–The bid to resume small town lottery (STL) operations in South Cotabato province triggered a rift on Wednesday, Sept. 26, between Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. and Col. Joel Limson, the provincial police commander.
Tamayo and Limson traded barbs over the arrest of Walter Ozaeta, a small town lottery (STL) operator known by his alias Mike Macalindong who happened to be facing charges of kidnapping in Batangas province.
The governor ordered Ozaeta’s arrest following their Sept. 19 meeting at the governor’s satellite office in Tupi, the governor’s hometown, after Tamayo learned about Ozaeta’s case from a local official in Batangas.
Tamayo accused the police chief, Limson, of “not doing his homework.”
“He should have conducted a background check,” said the governor. “This guy has a warrant of arrest for kidnapping,” Tamayo said in Filipino.
Ozaeta, 35, resident of San Jose town, Batangas province, had been endorsed to Tamayo by Limson, paving the way for a discussion on Ozaeta’s plan to revive STL operations in South Cotabato.
Tamayo said he met with Ozaeta because he wanted to make sure the reentry of STL would be legal and avoid earning the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte, last July, ordered all gaming formats of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), including lotto and STL, suspended due to unspecified cases of corruption but presumably including non-remittance of revenue from STL.
The suspension was lifted last August.
Tamayo said he called up a local official in Batangas province, whom he did not name, to inquirer about Ozaeta and was told that the STL operator had a warrant of arrest for kidnapping.
Limson denied Tamayo’s accusation that the police chief planned to turn Ozaeta into a “milking cow.”
Limson also said he was unaware of the warrant of arrest for Ozaeta, saying Ozaeta had been introduced to him only by other STL operators such as a certain Mike Macalindong.
Following his arrest, Ozaeta had been turned over to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group for custody.
Limson accused Tamayo of giving police and military teams P50,000 each to arrest Ozaeta with the money coming from the governor’s intelligence funds.
He said many STL players awaiting the return of the game must be celebrating his rift with the governor. He did not elaborate./tsb
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.