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Nation

No to STL, P’sinan governor maintains

- Eva Visperas -
LINGAYEN, Pangasinan — "No to STL in Pangasinan."

Thus said Gov. Victor Agbayani when asked about the possible operation of small town lottery (STL), which the provincial board began discussing last Friday.

Agbayani said, "We have a consistent stand, that we would like to support the gains of (Lingayen-Dagupan) Archbishop Oscar Cruz so as much as possible, the province would not want another avenue for gambling, another opportunity or another mechanism by which our people will have access to gambling again."

Cruz spearheads the Krusada ng Bayan Laban sa Sugal (formerly the Krusada ng Bayan Laban sa Jueteng), a nationwide anti-gambling crusade.

Agbayani, however, said he will look into the legal requirements of STL, adding that he understands that the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) has the legal mandate to operate it.

He added that he wants to know the role the province would play if STL is allowed to operate.

"But as far as I am concerned, and I think my view is shared by the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, we would rather that experiments be done in other provinces," he said.

Agbayani said the last time STL was proposed in Pangasinan, "we have the upper hand in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan so it was not allowed to continue."

Last Friday, the provincial board conducted a hearing after three companies have signified their formal intent to operate STL, thus seeking the board’s endorsement.

Agbayani said the legal requirements have to be studied because, as he was informed, the mayors could allow STL in their respective municipalities without needing the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s approval.

He said he also wants to be clarified if a mere resolution of the mayors’ league may be sufficient to allow STL to operate in a town or city.

Asked if he would stop the mayors from operating STL in their turfs despite his "No to STL" stand, Agbayani said, "We will just have to exert some persuasion but if legally they can make it run without the provincial (board’s) approval, what can we do?"

He said this is the reason why he still needs to validate many concerns because if the STL operation is province-based, it definitely has to pass through the provincial board.

If STL experiments in other areas are successful, Agbayani said there are two options: One, if it will be successful as far as the PCSO is concerned, and the other, if it will be accepted by the Church, by several sectors in the community or the communities in general.

"If they feel that it is something that is not morally acceptable, even if the operations are successful, it will not still be allowed," he said.

AGBAYANI ARCHBISHOP OSCAR CRUZ BAYAN LABAN KRUSADA LAST FRIDAY PANGASINAN PHILIPPINE CHARITY SWEEPSTAKES OFFICE SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN STL VICTOR AGBAYANI
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