News and UpdatesIn the NewsSP blocks STL entry

SP blocks STL entry

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The entry of Small Town Lottery (STL) in Negros Oriental has met stiff opposition from Negros Oriental leaders and the Diocese of Dumaguete.

Gov. Chaco Sagarbarria, the Sangguniang Panlunsod of Negros Oriental, Cong. Chiquiting Sagarbarria, Cong. Josy Limkaichong, and the Diocese of Dumaguete have petitioned the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office to stop the establishment and operation of Small Town Lottery by Gabrione Games Inc. or by anyone else, in the Province.

In a resolution sponsored by Board Member Woodrow Maquiling, the Provincial Board cited that gambling activities, such as STL, increases the community’s vulnerability to criminal activities and, at times, have even been linked to extra-legal killings, and various other forms of criminality.

It said that the recent political turmoil and criminality that have affected Negros Oriental in recent months can be traced to gambling activities.

As chief executive of the Province, Governor Sagarbarria requested for “diligent oversight” of STL operations in Negros Oriental, and called upon PCSO to “demonstrate wisdom in reviewing and recalling the authority granted” to the STL operator.

“With due respect to PCSO, there was absence of due diligence in granting authority to Gabione Games Inc. to operate STL in Negros Oriental,”the Governor told PCSO General Manager Melquiades Robles and Chairperson Junie Cua in a letter dated Sept. 16.

Governor Chaco recalled how the Province had been “rocked with political violence linked to gambling and related nefarious activities”. He said the death of political leaders opposed to gambling has gained even international attention.

“To introduce STL at a time when the provincial government is trying its best to restore stability in local governance, and confidence in the local peace and order is indicative that PCSO is not conscious of the effects of its actions,” Governor Chaco told PCSO, while assailing the absence of consultation with the provincial government and other stakeholders before granting Gabione Games a franchise to operate STL here.

He cited that while the Province hosts several prominent universities and other academic institutions, the “initiation of STL operations poses a threat to this nurturing environment, encouraging a mindset focused on quick gains rather than the longstanding values of hard work and dedication.”

He also cited that the Province is home to a “significant population with deep-rooted religious beliefs, many of whom find gambling as a vice that goes against the moral fabric of our society.” He added that the views and concerns of this demographic “cannot be sidestepped”.

For his part, 2nd District Congressman Sagarbarria also wrote the PCSO expressing his “deep-seated concern and unequivocal opposition” to STL operation in Negros Oriental.

“I support the provincial government in invoking the general welfare clause…to protect the welfare of the local community from the ill-effects of gambling, including gambling addiction, criminality, and violence,” Cognressman Chiquiting told the PCSO general manager and the chairperson.

He added that the PCSO “has apparently not been mindful of the political tyranny, criminality, and violence that some parts of Negros Oriental have experienced in recent times”. The Congressman said these were “all linked to and funded by proceeds from gambling operations”.

He said he feared that the operation of STL here will “lead to other community problems, compromising the welfare of the families, the educational environment, and the rich cultural and religious foundations that solidify our Province’s unity and strength”.

The Congressman also criticized the “lack of transparency and public participation” in the decision of PCSO to allow STL in the Province. “Such an approach not only flouts the principles of democratic governance but also diverges markedly from the participative governance that the national government has championed.”

Meanwhile, 1st District Cong. Josy Limkaichong, in a letter to PCSO Chair Junie Cua, said that with the holding of the Barangay & Sanggunian Kabataan elections in the country, peace and order should be the “primordial concern”, and not STL operations. “Now is not the proper time to reintroduce STL in our Province because of the alleged political unrest and corruption tied with STL operations.”

She warned that the introduction of STL will “pave the way for an array of social problems, including an increase in gambling addiction, and a subsequent rise in criminal activities”.

“Moreover,” Congressman Limkaichong said, “the moral fabric of our local community which we have tirelessly cultivated through a strong emphasis on educational values and close-knit bonds stands at a discernible risk.”

She also said the PCSO should “not turn a blind eye” to the violent incidents that happened in Negros Oriental which can be traced to gambling activities, as she asked the PCSO to reverse its decision allowing STL’s operation in Negros Oriental.

In a letter dated Sept. 26 for Governor Chaco, Vice-Gov. Jaime Reyes, and the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan from Vicar General Rite Rev. Glenn Corsiga, the Diocese of Dumaguete cited the CBCP Statement on Gambling signed by Dumaguete Bishop Rev. John Du, and the Plea and Appeal: Stop Small Town Lottery signed by Chancellor Rev. Fr. Thaddeu Stefano Quilnit, as it reiterated its call for the Province of Negros Oriental to stop the operation of STL. (AP)

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Photo Caption: Small Town Lottery ticket booths, like this one, have sprouted all over Negros Oriental after the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office authorized a company to run the government-sponsored game of chance in the Province. (Photo by Alex Pal)

 

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