Puerto Princesa City Council wants STL stoppage
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.