De Lima: Probe officials linked to illegal gambling

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The Senate should investigate allegations of corruption involving government officials that are behind Small Town Lottery (STL) operations in the country, Sen. Leila de Lima said on Tuesday.

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De Lima has filed Proposed Senate Resolution (PSR) 359 urging the Senate Committee on Civil Service, Government Reorganization and Professional Regulation to inquire into alleged links of administration officials to the STL operations.

“Allegations of corruption involving Cabinet and other high-ranking government officials should be investigated with utmost urgency and scrutiny in order to protect the integrity of public office and ensure public trust in government,” she said in a statement.

Gambling tycoon Charlie “Atong” Ang earlier said Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon want to eliminate him so they can control STL operations in certain provinces in the country.

Ang accused Aguirre of working with his brother, Ogie Aguirre, in taking over STL operations in Southern Luzon provinces, including Laguna, Batangas, and certain provinces in the Bicol Region.

According to him, Esperon works with other high military officials in controlling STL operations in Northern Luzon, including Pangasinan.

De Lima noted that STL, a grassroots-based lottery and charity that is managed by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), was designed to stamp out jueteng, an illegal numbers game.

“With the culture of patronage continually evolving, Section 7 (a) of [Republic Act] 6713, which only states that ‘public officials and employees shall not, directly or indirectly, have any financial or material interest in any transaction requiring the approval of their office’ no longer suffices in admonishing public officials against committing certain irregularities whether penalized by law or not,” she said.

De Lima cited PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan’s avowal to stop illegal gambling, which he said has been “the scourge of this country for the longest time, spawning corruption in different agencies and levels of government.”

NIKKI J. DELOS REYES

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