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NBI illegal gambling investigation points to Escalante woman

BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

The National Bureau of Investigation is looking into reports that a woman who facilitated the establishment of a remittance center for illegal Small Town Lottery illegal operations in Binalbagan, may have links to the financier of the Vikings Peryahan ng Bayan.

Abner Cañal, who was subpoenaed by NBI to explain the use of his house as a remittance center for illegal gambling, yesterday said a certain Liezl from Escalante City was the one who transacted with him to rent a room for three individuals charged with collecting gambling bets.

But Cañal said he was forced later to evict the three persons he identified only through their first names as Cookie, Nonoy and Val, after they failed to present documents such as deed of authority or a franchise from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, authorizing them to operate a betting station.

This was after Cañal said that he discovered that they were using “cotejos” without PCSO markings.

The illegal gambling outfit originally operated in Brgy. Payao, Binalbagan, but since they did not have enough income, Cañal said they decided to move to the town proper, renting a room in his house, and were able to operate for four days, until August 9.

“When the NBI operatives arrived at my home (Aug. 10), they already left,” he added.

Baldovino has confirmed the illegal operations of Vikings Peryahan ng Bayan under the guise of STL operations in Bacolod City, as well as in Binalbagan and Sipalay City, as indicated by the positive result of their test bet operations.

He disclosed that cooperation to their investigation by the owners of a house and a building in Binalbagan and Sipalay City, being used as remittance centers for illegal gambling, will help them gather more evidence against the group of financiers, whom he did not identify.

The penalty for financiers of illegal gambling is heavier compared to the persons engaged in illegal gambling.

Baldovino clarified that the Super Lucky Beagler Incorporation (SLBI) is the only outfit authorized by the PCSO to operate STL in Negros Occidental.

Last week, a betting station of Vikings Peryahan ng Bayan was raided by NBI operatives at the Libertad Public Market in Bacolod City, leading to the arrest of two persons who immediately managed to post bail of P162,000 and were released from NBI custodial facility on Aug. 6.

Under the provisions of RA 9287, or “An Act Increasing the Penalties for Illegal Numbers Games, Amending Certain Provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1602, and for other purposes,” Baldovino said anyone involved in the operations of illegal STL, including arrested bettors, who are convicted of such an offense, will be imprisoned from 30 to 90 days.

The staff, owner of the lot or building may face six to eight years of imprisonment; eight to 10 years for bet solicitors; 10 to 12 years for coordinator and supervisor; 12 to 14 years for the maintainer, manager and operator; 14 years to 16 years to financier; 16 to 20 years to protectors, as well perpetual disqualification of holding public office for those connected to the government; he added.*

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