Puerto Princesa City Coun­cil wants STL stop­page

Palawan News - - FRONT PAGE - By Ger­ardo Reyes Jr

The Puerto Princesa City Coun­cil wants to stop the op­er­a­tion of the small town lottery (STL) amid cheat­ing al­le­ga­tions and called for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the mat­ter.

In two res­o­lu­tions it ap­proved dur­ing its reg­u­lar ses­sion Mon­day, the City Coun­cil asked the Na­tional Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (NBI) to look into the Oc­to­ber 1 and Oc­to­ber 8 in­ci­dents when wrong win­ning num­ber com­bi­na­tions were broad­casted in a lo­cal ra­dio sta­tion.

Orly Batis­laong, the branch man­ager in Palawan of the Philip­pine Char­ity Sweep­stakes Of­fice (PCSO), ap­peared

be­fore the City Coun­cil to an­swer claims made by his co-em­ployee Car­mencita Ben­ito about the blun­dered STL draw.

Ben­ito claimed that the STL op­er­a­tion in Palawan by fran­chisee Sierra Nues­tra Cor­po­ra­tion (SNC) has been cheat­ing bet­tors by an­nounc­ing the wrong win­ning num­ber com­bi­na­tions, specif­i­cally on Oc­to­ber 1 and Oc­to­ber 8.

She also said that she in­formed Batis­laong about the mat­ter, but he told her to keep quiet as she would be go­ing against “im­por­tant per­son­al­i­ties.”

The SNC in Palawan is un­der the op­er­a­tions man­age­ment of a cer­tain Ce­sar Bazar, who was ter­mi­nated af­ter Ben­ito dis­closed the con­tro­versy to the lo­cal me­dia.

Ben­ito, who was ex­pected to at­tend the ses­sion be­ing the “whistleblower,” was sent to re­port to Manila, Batis­laong said.

Coun­cilor Vic­tor Oliv­eros said it is bet­ter to stop the STL op­er­a­tions than al­low it to op­er­ate like “jueteng.”

“Pareho sila ng op­erasyon ng jueteng magkaiba lang sa pan­galan, tapos ba­hay-ba­hay pa ang pag bebenta na walang binibi­gay na re­sibo, kahit sino pupuwe­deng tu­maya mag­ing mga ka­bataan. Ako ay sumasang-ayon dito sa 6/58 Kenno pero itong STL ay hindi ako sumasang-ayon,” Oliv­eros said.

Coun­cilor Jimmy Car­bonell, on the other hand, said the PCSO ap­peared to have ne­glected the mon­i­tor­ing of the STL op­er­a­tion, es­pe­cially the air­ing of the re­sult.

“Da­pat ay bini­gyan ng pro­teksyon ang mga taong man­anaya. Ako ay nanini­wala na ito ay in­ten­tion­ally done. Nakasalalay dito ang cred­i­bil­ity ng PCSO kaya ako ay sumusu­porta sa panukala na ipatigil ang STL sa Puerto Princesa. Kasi kayo sa PCSO ay may lapses kayo. Ka­pag nakarat­ing sa itaas ang am­ing res­o­lu­tion ay sig­u­radong mag-iimbestiga ang PCSO. Cred­i­ble ba ang fran­chiser dito? Ang lo­cal PCSO ay gi­na­gawa ba nila ang kani­lang re­spon­si­bil­ity? Kayo ang na­mu­muno ay sana gi­nawa nyo ang trabaho nyo at mi­nomon­i­tor ninyo ng maayos. Heads will roll in this par­tic­u­lar sit­u­a­tion,” Car­bonell told Batis­laong.

Batis­laong said he only knew about the in­ci­dent from Ben­ito on Oc­to­ber 4, or on the fourth day af­ter the er­ro­neous air­ing of 31-17 ver­sus the ac­tual win­ning num­ber com­bi­na­tion of 23-22 to on Oc­to­ber 1.

On Oc­to­ber 8, the ac­tual win­ning num­ber com­bi­na­tion was 05-39, but SNC an­nounced 35-14 in a lo­cal ra­dio sta­tion.

“Gu­mawa tayo ng su­lat ask­ing them (Siera Nues­tra) to ex­plain noong Lunes. Noong Martes nag­u­lat tayo na siya (Ben­ito) ay pumunta sa radyo at may ganoon ng sit­wasyon,” Batis­laong said.

He said that an in­ci­dent re­port was sub­mit­ted by his of­fice to the PCSO in Manila and he in­cluded him­self to be among those who are sub­ject for in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

When Amu­rao asked Batis­laong about telling off Ben­ito to keep quiet and not med­dle in the is­sue, he de­nied by say­ing she mis­un­der­stood him.

“Hindi ko na­man sin­abi yon. Ang sin­abi ko na hindi tayo da­pat na­ga­galit sa pub­liko dahil hindi natin ki­lala ang mga yan. May tamang paraan para makipag-usap,” he said.

Coun­cilor Henry Ga­di­ano said he is dis­ap­pointed over the con­tro­versy and asked if it is re­ally safe for bet­tors to pa­tron­ize the STL.

“Safe pa ba tu­maya sa STL? Bi­nobola na nga itong STL, ang mga tu­mataya ay bi­nobola pa rin. Bo­la­han na lang ba?” he asked.

Most of the coun­cilors were not con­vinced by Batis­laong’s ex­pla­na­tions, and one of them, Coun­cilor Peter Maris­tela, moved to ask the help of the NBI to in­ves­ti­gate the al­leged “scam.”

“Aside sa ad­min­is­tra­tive li­a­bil­ity ay da­pat na man­agot din ang da­pat man­agot sa crim­i­nal li­a­bil­ity. Nagti­wala na tayo tapos niloko pa tayo. Ito ay dalawang be­ses lang na-diskubre pero ito ay gi­na­gawa ng mata­gal na,” Maris­tela said.

Coun­cilor Ne­sario Awat also said that since penal­ties for vi­o­la­tions like this is im­pris­on­ment of fewer than six years, he moved for a more stiffer penalty by ask­ing the Con­gress to im­pose stricter pun­ish­ment for vi­o­la­tors.

The case is sim­i­lar to swin­dling, and if not for Ben­ito, no one would have known about what is re­ally go­ing on in the STL op­er­a­tion in Palawan, he pointed out.

“Si Car­mencita Ben­ito ang dahi­lan kung bakit nab­ul­gar ang hindi ma­g­a­n­dang pangya­yari sa STL. Nasa tamang katwiran si Ben­ito na il­abas nya ang isyung ito,” Awat said.

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