No to STL — Baguio dads

BAGUIO CITY — In a move intended to “hammer the last nail on the Small Town Lottery’s (STL) coffin,” the city council last Monday rejected proposals to operate, whether on temporary or permanent basis, the STL in the city.

Adopting the recommendation of its committee on laws chaired by Councilor Richard Cariño, the body also decided not to entertain any more proposals for STL operations in the future.

At the same time, the body adopted a resolution enjoining all law enforcement agencies and barangay officials to help eradicate all forms of gambling in the city.

Disinterested proponents

Two companies earlier offered to operate the STL in the city – the Green 2 Corporation represented by president Jaime Mangahas and the Horizontal Flyers Amusement Corporation headed by general manager Christopher Reyes. Mangahas and Reyes in separate letters, requested for the city council’s endorsement for the conduct of test runs for the STL.

The committee on laws, in its report, noted that these were the latest of the strings of offers received by the city on the STL despite the city council action on August 13, last year rejecting proposals to conduct test runs or operate the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office-sponsored games in the city.

The committee said that during the public hearing held on the issue last June 17 where representatives from various sectors unanimously opposed the STL test runs, the proponents did not show up along with the other applicants invited by the council including one Joji DG De Guzman, president of the Sumikadan ti Cordillera Gaming Corporation, Orville Roque, president of Joe Calf Amusement Corporation.

This clearly indicates the proponents’ lack of interest to pursue their respective proposal, according to the committee report. The committee also noted that the letters of invitation to the proponents were returned to the council as the address was “unknown” and the addressee could not be located.

“This is significant. To the mind of the committee, the proponents are not transparent of their real intention,” the committee noted.

Anti-gambling sentiment

STL or Lotto to the common residents, was revived in 2006 and was groomed by the administration as a legal lottery game in the tradition of sweepstakes and on-line bingo and lotto to combat jueteng in the countryside.

Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. assured that he would not allow STL in the city in keeping with the prevailing sentiment of residents against the entry of any form of gambling, whether sanctioned or not by the national government.

The city has an existing anti-gambling stand elucidated in Resolution No. 122-02 entitled “Expressing the Sentiment of the People of Baguio and the Policy of the City Government against Gambling.”

Metro Baguio Multi-Sectoral Movement led by religious leaders in the city, which had in the past been at the forefront of the successful campaigns against casino and lotto, also objects to STL saying it is just a legalized form of jueteng.

The city council also led in the fight for the reopening of the casino in 1991, the lotto in 1994, 1995 and 2004 by virtue of Resolution No. 221 series of 1989 and Resolution No. 122 series of 2002 which registered the city’s opposition to the entry of all forms of gambling in the city. # Aileen P. Refuerzo/PIO(NorDis)

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