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PCSO flags all STL ops in Naga as illegal

By Keren Anne Bernadas

NAGA CITY --- The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Camarines Sur Branch Manager Jovit Ramos shed light on the reported operations of the Small Town Lottery (STL) in this city during the 29th regular session of the city council, Feb.7, Tuesday.

In his speech, Ramos said that operations of STL in this city, which occurred in March 2020 was stopped abruptly due to the pandemic.

“When all gaming operations of PCSO was approved resumed by the government, the regional trial court branch 23 issued a cease and desist order enjoining PCSO and the Evenchance gaming corporation to stop the conduct of STL in Naga City,” Ramos said.

Since then, he said, no operations of STL should have not taken place in the city. Even the draw court was moved in the city to address confusion in its implementation and law enforcement.

Therefore, “all betting games in Naga City, whether uniform or not, is not authorized by PCSO,” he said.

In support of this, Councilor Buddy Del Castillo stated that the city government has long filed a request with the Supreme Court for the city’s exclusion from the authority of a PCSO franchise granted to Camarines Sur. First, Naga is politically autonomous from the province. Second, previous mayors wanted to keep it as a “City of Pilgrims.”

In 2022, Ramos said that there were about three reports lettered to the police office about the existing conduct of STL in Naga. Apprehensions and investigations were made thereafter, yet his office maintained its stance by issuing certificates of no operations, because of the absence of the permit to do so in the city.

City Chief of Police PCol Nelson Pacalso, on the other hand, reported before the city council that his anti-gambling directives in 2022 resulted in 44 operations and arrested 124 persons.

The Naga City Police Office (NSPO) also seized a total of P26,267.50 of confiscated bets in illegal gambling activities.

Pacalso could not refer to STL collections due to the lack of permit for Naga, rather, he termed it as “number games.”

In separate joint operations initiated by the NCPO and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group still in 2022, 20 individuals were arrested, and a sum of P14,070 were nabbed from said illegal number games.

Pacalso said that all apprehended individuals were charged with appropriate cases for these violations.

One of the barangay chairpersons, Pedro San Juan Jr. from Balatas, Naga City, testified before the council that there was indeed ongoing collection of STL in his barangay three years ago, in which he denied his involvement.

He also assured the council that he is willing to participate in police investigations and help identify illegal collectors from his barangay.

Furthermore, Vice-Mayor Nene De Asis called for a stronger and closer coordination among the barangay council, the city police office and the PCSO to finally put a stop to these gambling activities, and arrest those who are involved. (PIA5/Camarines Sur)

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