"IT'S his lookout."
This was the reaction of Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez Thursday, March 9, after Barangay Tangub Captain Noli Villarosa was tagged by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as an alleged financier of illegal small town lottery (STL) in Kabankalan City.
Charges before the City Prosecutors Office in Kabankalan were filed against Villarosa.
"I was surprised because I have no reports towards that (alleged involvement of Villarosa in STL operation)," Benitez said.
He said the NBI has their own basis for what they are doing, adding that Villarosa should clear his name in the proper forum for him to be settled once and for all.
The mayor stressed that it’s the chance of Villarosa to prove that the accusation against him is not true.
Benitez said the city will not provide a legal assistance to Villarosa because it’s not in line of his duty and responsibility.
"It’s his lookout. His case last time was related in road clearing operation so the city extended him a legal assistance. But, this time, it’s different story and it’s not in line of his duty and responsibility," he said.
Benitez disclosed that all barangay officials should not participate, tolerate or any involvement in illegal activities.
Aside from Villarosa, two other barangay officials, France Leonard Siguero of Barangay 6 and Joel Alibango of Barangay 5 of Kabankalan City, were also charged for illegal gambling.
NBI-Bacolod chief Renoir Baldovino earlier said that on February 8, a meeting was held at the covered court of Brgy. 6, where it was attended by the three officials.
He said Siguero asked a barangay watchman to call all collectors of the illegal STL operations where more than 10 bet collectors or coredors attended.
Villarosa allegedly promised the barangay captains that they would be given a share of the STL operations in their barangays, he added.
"They were also told that if anybody asks them who owns the STL operations, they should say it is owned by Villarosa," Baldovino said.
For his part, Villarosa said that he is willing to resign from his post if it is proven that he is a financier of illegal STL operations.
"I don't have any capacity to be a financier as I don't have any money," he said.
Villarosa believes that the criminal charges filed against him are politically motivated, as he still has one remaining term in the upcoming barangay elections.*