Romblon town bucks entry of state-run STL
The local government of Odiongan town in Romblon province has opposed the entry of the government-run Small Town Lottery (STL), saying gambling, legal or not, would erode public morality.
The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) on Nov. 23 issued Pines Estate Gaming Corp., the same STL agent-corporation operating in Benguet province, the sole authority to operate in Romblon.
Pines Estate was set to begin operating STL in Romblon by Dec. 8, with multiple draws daily, according to Odiongan Mayor Trina Firmalo-Fabic.
Vice Mayor Mark Anthony Reyes said the municipal council passed a resolution opposing STL.
Local officials also launched a campaign to gather 5,000 signatures from residents and church members to turn down the numbers game. “We’re hoping to get a convincing number to show the PCSO that we don’t want it (STL) here,” Reyes said.
Fabic said Pines Estate was awarded the STL franchise without prior consultation with the local government. In the same PCSO certification, it said STL operators were exempted from securing business permits from the municipality.
“We think that’s unfair. No matter how they try to tell us that the local government anyway will earn its share (from the STL revenue), it’s the people here who do not want it,” Fabic said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
Last year, two corporations tried to operate STL in Romblon but were stopped by members of the religious community.
STL, the PCSO’s third biggest income-generating scheme, is being criticized as a supposed front for the illegal numbers game, “jueteng.”
According to Alexander Balutan, PCSO general manager, STL is the agency’s biggest employing project, giving jobs to more than 200,000 people as bet collectors or area managers.
In Romblon, a third-class province (annual income: P270 million-P360 million), local officials have claimed winning the war against “loteng,” a form of illegal gambling derived from the legal lottery and illegal jueteng. They fear, however, the resumption of this game once STL is established.
“The idea that the presence of STL means there is progress [in a particular place] is a very wrong notion,” Reyes said. “(Instead) it will only diminish morality.”
Lucky V Prime Enterprises Inc., the STL agent-corporation in Albay province, continues to operate under a new set of directors, after its former chair, Alex German Alemania, was gunned down in November.
Balutan said the PCSO had yet to decide on the request of Gov. Al Francis Bichara to cancel STL in Albay. —MARICAR CINCO
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