REPRESENTATIVE Arnulfo Teves Jr. of the third district of Negros Oriental has expressed his all-out support to the government’s campaign against illegal gambling, as he vowed to do his share as congressman to make a report on this matter before authorities in Manila.
Teves has divulged names of individuals whom he described as “untouchables” in the illegal numbers game in Negros Oriental and expressed dismay for the absence of the police provincial director in the dialogue called for by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) over the weekend in Dumaguete City.
He said he was looking for answers if the one-strike policy of the Philippine National Police (PNP) was being implemented in cities and municipalities where illegal gambling was rampant.
He refused to publicly divulge the full names of the so-called "untouchables" but assured he would do it in a proper forum.
He stressed it was the franchise holder's responsibility of reporting this matter to the concerned agencies.
Teves mentioned the names of “Benny,” “Tam,” “Barrera,” and “Arsenio,” whom he said continued to operate the illegal numbers game “swertres” despite the operation of Small Town Lottery (STL), which is a government-sanctioned gambling operation.
PCSO branch manager Belena Alvarez confirmed that all the mayors and chiefs of police all over the province, including the provincial director, were invited to the dialogue, but none came, except for three to five non-commissioned police officers, including the representative of the acting provincial police director Henry Biñas.
Present during the dialogue were Abraham Urubio, chief of staff of PCSO; chairman Jose Jorge Corpuz; Federico Damole, PCSO Visayas; Miguel Fraginal, PCSO executive assistant VI; and Christopher Santiago of Four Aces Resources Management Group Corporation, among others.
In a phone interview, Biñas said he received the invitation late Friday through his secretary, but he had an equally important commitment and visitors the following day.
He said the names reported by Teves were being validated and verified, assuring the lawmaker that the police are doing their best.
Alvarez said the dialogue with the police and the local government units was aimed to threat out details of the law, so there would be no arrests involving ushers and employees of the STL operator wearing identification cards.
STL national coordinator Abraham Urubio said the dialogue would have clarified the mechanisms and the process on how STL operates but only few were present.
He assured Teves to make a report about the personalities he mentioned through the local branch officer in Dumaguete.
Urubio said Four Aces was exempted from getting permits from the local government units where it operates as provided for in the law.
Meanwhile, Provincial Administrator Richard Enojo said the Provincial Government did not receive any official communication about the dialogue with the PCSO per records of the Capitol.
But when asked about the legality of STL, Enojo said they could operate wherever they want, but it does not mean to also ignore regulations as provided for in the Local Government Code.
While they have the privilege to operate nationwide, they still have to comply with local requirements, he said. (PNA)