SANTIAGO CITY, Isabela: The Sahara Games and Amusement Philippines Corp. (SGAPC) authorized by Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to operate the Small Town Lottery (STL) numbers game in this province has admitted that its daily collection plunged by at least 46 percent this month, mainly because of a plan by another group composed of political allies and relatives of Gov. Rodolfo Albano 3rd to take over the operation.
The SGAPC, led by Eduardo Davalan, told officers and members of the Northern Luzon Press and Radio Club led by Benny Fernandez of The Weekly Times that a certain Cesar Dy, supposedly a close friend of Albano,is lobbying the office of the PCSO in Manila using his link to the governor in applying for a franchise to operate STL in the province.
“At present, we are the operator of the STL in Isabela province and we do not have any unsettled obligations to the PCSO. Last week, we received information that a group of Mr. Dy appeared at the PCSO office questioning the legality of our operation” Davalan said.
He added that his group was the operator of the STL for the past several years and they have no unpaid taxes.
On September 27, the PCSO issued a letter, again recognizing the group of Davalan as the STL operator in Isabela effective October 1.
But for unknown reasons, Albano issued an order directing the mayors and the barangay (village) officials to stop the operation of the STL numbers game in their jurisdiction from October 16 and the operation only resumed on October 24.
“In those nine days, we lost more or less P20 million collections and our bet collectors’ daily income had also been affected,” Davalan told reporters.
Sandra Aratan, a bet collector, said she already worked as one when Dy was the operator of jueteng in Isabela but she is not in favor of him taking over the operation of the STL in the province.
The order of Albano, according to Davalan, was illegal and not in accordance with law considering that the STL is being managed by the PCSO and its operation is not under the jurisdiction of local chief executives.
This is the first time that a governor issued an order stopping the operation of STL numbers game when he has no authority to do so.
The group of Davalan has received reports that some bet collectors were intimidated by armed men, who had approached them, telling them to stop collecting bets for the STL numbers game and threatening them that something will happen to them if they continue.
Davalan claimed that some of their employees in their betting stations have been complaining about intimidation and harassment by these armed me.
His group appealed to PCSO General Manager Royina Garma to help them in seeking police assistance to ensure the safety of their employees in the betting stations established in some villages in Isabela.
Albano admitted, without elaborating, that he issued such order directing the mayors and the police force to stop the operation of the STL numbers game in their jurisdiction.
He denied his connection with the group of Cesar Dy who wanted to take over the operation of the STL in Isabela.