Several Ilocos Norte government officials had expressed their strong support for the establishment of a small-town lottery (STL) operation in the province provided proper guidelines would be strictly implemented.
These officials expressed their backing of the STL during a public hearing conducted by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s committee on games and amusement chaired by SP member Renato Ma. R. Peralta and was attended by town mayors, vice mayors, councilors and chiefs of police of the province.
Representatives from the religious sector—the sector that is mainly opposing the STL—were also invited but no one showed up.
Peralta initiated the public hearing as a result of a proposed resolution by SP member Da Vinci M. Crisostomo which requests the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to set up small town lottery in Ilocos Norte.
According to Crisostomo, his draft STL resolution is meant to provide legitimate livelihood opportunities to the “kubradors” and “kabos” who became unemployed after a nationwide crackdown on jueteng.
In his draft resolution, Crisostomo said, “The operation of STL will augment the revenue collection of the province, municipalities and the city due to a certain percentage accruing to the coffers of the local government which can be utilized for the purpose of realizing its various programs and projects.”
Crisostomo explained further that it would be the PCSO which would administer the establishment of STL and just like in any legal business operations, STL operators would avail of a franchise approved by the local sanggunian and the mayor, and a business permit.
Laoag City Vice Mayor Marlon Wayne D. Manuel during the hearing said, “STL is logical and timely,” because of the current economic crunch the country is facing. However he clarified that the necessary “guidelines should be delineated” so as to know the proper percentage distribution of STL proceeds once it starts operating in the province.
Dingras Mayor Robert Castro, who also actively participated in the discussion said, “I am amenable with STL operation. When I was the vice mayor, STL operated [in our town].”
Meanwhile, police officers present during the public hearing admitted that STL is already on an “experimental test” in various areas in the province but local authorities are investigating if these are merely fronts for jueteng.
The police officers also disclosed that higher police officials have issued a directive to them prohibiting them from apprehending STL operatives as this numbers game is legal.
Leilanie G. Adriano
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