ArchivesNovember 2010STL opposers rule public hearing

STL opposers rule public hearing


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Negrenses attending a public hearing on applications for a Small-Town Lottery franchise in Negros Oriental scored the negative virtues of gambling at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan session hall Tuesday.{{more}}

The public hearing was called for by the provincial legislature after it received two applications for an STL franchise from a company called the Lucky Golden Tiger Gaming Corporation and a certain Porfirio Jardiniano.

Most of those who attended the public hearing were anti-gambling advocates, coming from the religious, academic and civic sector.

Operators of STL, Lotto and other state-sponsored gambling activities may have a national franchise for their business, but the Province of Negros Oriental passed a law in 1996 reserving the right to regulate their operations.

Atty. Glenn Abellon, representative of the Lucky Golden Tiger Gaming Corporation, made a presentation highlighting the advantages of allowing them to operate in the Province.

“STL,” he said, “will give employment to 2000 people, it will expedite the delivery of social services, ambulances, medicine and medical equipment and it will also eradicate illegal gambling.”

He also presented the sharing scheme of STL receipts, where shares would go to several sectors such as the local government unit, the police, civic groups and the religious sector.

But the figures failed to entice most of those who attended the hearing, who instead assailed the ill-effects of gambling.

“Gambling has a fatal allure on the Filipino psyche” said Msgr. Gamaliel Tulabing, vicar-general of the Diocese of Dumaguete. He said the economic and spiritual dimension, and not gambling, is the apex of economic development.

“Accepting STL is counterproductive to total human development. Lotto and STL cannot be justified as promoting the general welfare of the inhabitants. As Christians, we believe that not everything that is legal is moral,” he said.

NORSU President Dr. Henry Sojor, meanwhile, said the lessons learned from gambling are against the lessons learned through education.

“I cannot harmonize education and gambling. Gambling means instant richness–it means greed. Education teaches us to study. Colleges and universities inculcate the value of study, sacrifice and hard work. As an educator, I cannot think of the two staying together,” Sojor said.

Abellon, in his rejoinder, said he was not in a position to argue with the Church about morality. “A mans life,” he said, “is composed of the moral, physical, economic, emotional and social aspects. We do not argue with the Catholic Church but we argue that we help in the other aspects of the people’s lives.

Abellon found some allies in the public hearing. Those who spoke in favor of STL did not identify themselves but they scored the inconsistency of disallowing STL while allowing other forms of gambling, such as cockfighting.

Lotto, one man said, has been a big help in Negros Oriental. He said there are ambulances donated by the PCSO.

Another STL defender said that if this application is not legalized, there will be a lot of illegal gambling operators. “Even policemen make bets,” she said, eliciting applause from the gallery.

Board Member Saleto Erames, author of Provincial Ordinance Number 4 which regulates the operation of state-sponsored gambling activities, said the status of this Ordinance is still pending before the Court of Appeals.

Those opposed to this Ordinance say the local government does not have the authority to regulate something that is permitted by a national law.

“This is a good sign that the applicant company recognizes the authority of the Province to regulate. And it’s also good that they recognize the importance of morality,” Erames said, as he stressed that the decision of the Province would depend on the opinion of the people.

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