The City Councilors and Vice Mayor Jemar Vera Cruz have expressed their strong opposition to the operation of the Small Town Lottery (STL) in Iligan last May 21, 2018, during the regular session of the 16th Council of the Sangguniang Panlungsod at the Session Hall of the Pedro Generalao Bldg.
As part of the afternoon agenda, the personnel of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and STL were called for an appearance to tackle on the operation of the STL in Iligan.
Some of the councilors, including Renato “Titin” Ancis, Demosthenes “Demy” Plando, Bernard “Tete” Pacaña, Petronilo “Noli” Pardillo, Rosevi Queenie Belmonte, Rhandy Ryan Francis Ong, and Samuel “Tatay” Huertas, voiced out their opposition to the running of the STL in Iligan. They also raised some questions regarding the legality of the operations of the said numbers game in the city.
According to Councilor Titin Ancis, STL outlets have sprouted like mushrooms all over the city and are found almost everywhere, even near hospitals and schools. Furthermore, some of the members of the Council also asked if they were able to secure a mayor’s permit to operate in the city and if it is legal for them to run the STL even without the said permit. They also questioned them about the STL having just the same results with that of the Official PCSO Swertres when they are supposed to have their own machines for drawing their own number combinations.
The personnel of the PCSO and STL defended that the outlets that they are operating are legal and have control numbers to make sure that they are all are well-regulated. They also explained that they are not yet required by the national level to secure a mayor’s permit since they are still in a one-year transition phase. They stated that they will only be needing one once they renew in August 2018.
These statements were objected to by the members of the 16th Council. Councilor Huertas, the presider in the afternoon of the said session, tried to confirm if the purpose of STL is to eliminate the illegal numbers game in the city, which was affirmed by the PCSO and STL personnel to be true. Councilor Queenie Belmonte then asked them whether they have fulfilled their purpose or not. Although they said “yes” on the matter, she disagreed with their statement and further stated, “[Sa nakikita namin], mas lumala pa nga.”
Vice Mayor Jemar Vera Cruz, who became the acting mayor on that afternoon, sat in during the session and was given the privilege to raise his concerns. In his speech, he appealed to the PCSO and STL to stop their operations in the city. According to him:
“I am appealing to your conscience, [my dear friends from the STL and the PCSO], tell this to your boss, that we do not want you to be here. If you would say that we will stop the [numbers games] in Iligan City, we will stop it, […]. And if you will know, once you withdraw, you will know that there is operation [of illegal numbers game], then you come to us and see, we will operate again because we were not successful in stopping the illegal numbers [games]. So mao ni akong hangyo sa inyo, [mga people from STL and PCSO]: Please do something. Please do something, [samtang we still have a control with our patience].
There was an executive from the higher up of the PCSO […], and he was asking us, ‘if we can operate STL in Iligan’. I said, ‘no’. That was your top executive [of PCSO]. Pero, to my surprise, padayon man gihapon. [Patuloy pa man gihapon ang STL sa Iligan]. So, this is what I say to you, and I am saying this over and over again with my colleagues: We do not want the money of STL in Iligan. The PCSO money is already enough for us. [And this lotto], okay na. ‘Wag niyo nang dagdagan iyan. We do not want STL to be here in Iligan. We do not want your money, as you are boasting that [you are sharing to our city government because we do not want that money] because our people are getting very poor every day.”
With the 16th Council having clearly expressed their opposition to the Small Town Lottery, the said numbers game may not be able to continue to operate in the city as they will be required to secure a mayor’s permit upon their renewal on August.