Kalinga Small Town Lottery operation opposed

TABUK CITY, KALINGA – The KAPEHAN council, chaired by Governor Jocel Baac, adopted the motion not to allow the operation of the controversial Small Town Lottery here after a vote of 140-6 during the regular meeting at the Capitol gym on Monday.

The meeting was open to the public and attended by Tabuk City Mayor Ferdinand Tubban, Balbalan Mayor Ruben Dongui-is, barangay officials, leaders of religious organizations, employees of the provincial government, representatives from different sectors, among others.

Also present were executives of Mountain View Games of Chance Corporation, the Authorized Agent Corporation (AAC) who last month received go signal from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to operate STL in the province.

Governor Baac said that the entry of the state-run numbers game in Kalinga must not be allowed yet, pending further study. “Haan tayo pay met nakasagana nga taga-Kalinga,” Baac said. [We are not ready for STL.] “With due respect to you operators, total bassit met ti tumaya dituy probinsya, mabalin nga adalen tayo nga nalaing, haan tayo paylang nga ag-operate,” he added. [With due respect to you operators, since there will not be that many bettors here, can we study it further, do not operate yet.]

The local chief executive also pointed out that there is no jueteng in Kalinga. STL was established by the government as a legal alternative to jueteng.

He also questioned the PCSO’s sharing scheme in which the police, the province, and the office of the Congressman gets 2.3%,  1%, and 0.75% respectively. “Apay nga dakdakkel ti share ti PNP ngem dgyay LGU? Apay nga dakdakkel? Question mark. Apay nga adda bagi ti Congress, anya kuma met ti biyang da dita? Tapnu agtalna da,” he said. [Why does the PNP get a bigger share than the LGUs? Why? Question mark. Why does Congress have a share, what do they have to do with this? So that they will keep quiet.]

In the emergency joint meeting of the KAPEHAN council and the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) on June 20, Baac slammed PCSO and Mountain View for disrespecting local officials when they allegedly said that STL would push through with or without a Mayor’s permit.

PCSO Cagayan Branch Manager Heherson Pambid confirmed that the regulation of STL belongs to PCSO’s Board of Trustees and its operation would not require a Mayor’s permit but he denied having said the disrespectful statement. “Nagtataka lang ako sa source ng salita na yan, definitely it is not from PCSO,” he said. “As of now, dine-deny po yan ng Mountain View,” he went on.

Meanwhile, both Provincial Prosecutor Bartholomew Gamonnac and District Public Attorney Francis Calsiyao disputed PCSO’s position that the operation of STL does not require a Mayor’s permit.

“While it is true that the PCSO is not required to secure business permit, however, you are operating through a private corporation so before that corporation can operate in Kalinga, you have to secure a permit,” Calsiyao said.

“On PCSO’s point that whether we like it or not, STL will operate because of the national law, I beg to disagree because the government is doing a business through a proprietory capacity which means it is subject to the power of the local government to issue business permits,” Gamonnac said.

“If we look at the PCSO law, STL has not been established when Congress made the lotto law. It was the board that came up with STL. Is that a law? Can that have the standing as a legislative act of Congress?” he added.

Voicing out his opposition to STL, Bishop Hilary Pasikan of the Archdiocese of Northern Luzon appealed to PCSO not to continue with STL if it faces widespread disapproval from the people of Kalinga and Apayao. “Please, if there is any chance – han tayo met siguro nga maibalud nu haan tayo nga suruten dayta nga law nga ibagbaga yu,” he said. [Please, if there is any chance – it’s not as if we will get imprisoned if we don’t follow that national law you are talking about.

The bishop’s sentiments were echoed by the mayors of Balbalan and Tabuk City. “While there is law making it legal for STL to operate, you operators, are you obliged to go to every province to operate and if you don’t, will you be imprisoned?” Dongui-is asked. “I haven’t even consulted my people if they want [STL] or not. But if you were to ask me, definitely we don’t like it.” Tubban meanwhile asked the PCSO and Mountain View to “spare Kalinga, spare Tabuk City.”

Towards the latter part of the discussion, Board Member Danzel Langkit confronted PCSO about the closure of STL operations in the towns of Piat and Solana of Cagayan: “In Piat, the mayor ordered the PNP to close the operation of the STL. Nalito ang PNP, they don’t know who to follow. So may inaction because there is a DOJ resolution that the local government cannot tax the national government. In the case of Solana, clinose ng mayor ang operation ng STL. What happened there? Hindi PNP ang nag-close but the employees of the local government of Solana.”

“Actually hindi po nag-stop ang operation ng Piat,” Pambid clarified. “The mayor sent a letter to the manager of PCSO requesting to stop muna yung operation ng STL considering that Piat is a place of worship. Sumunod po ang PCSO dun and kinonsider ng mayor so hindi po nag-stop ang operation ng Piat, Cagayan.”

As for Solana, Pambid confirmed that the closure order from the Mayor there stopped the operation of STL.  “Although the PNP did not enforce the closure order because there is a MOA between PNP and PCSO for the protection of STL operations. Total stop of operations was on May 1,” Pambid said.

Pambid clarified that he has no authority to stop the entry of STL operations in Kalinga but he assured Governor Baac that all the opinions aired during the discussion will be elevated to PCSO’s head office.

By Iryll Sicnao

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