Cops won’t stop STL in Naga

NAGA CITY (Bicol Standard)—“The Naga City Police Office should refrain from participating or giving any assistance that will show complicity to the padlocking or closing [of Evenchance Gaming Corporation in Naga City], unless public safety and security requires.”

This is the legal opinion of Police Chief Inspector Reynold B. Villania of the Legal Office of the Naga City Police Office in connection with the operation of Small Town Lottery (STL) in this city.

Evenchance Gaming Corporation, he wrote, is a legitimate STL franchisee of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

Its operation is opposed by the city government of Naga for being without permit.

Villania cited Legal Opinion No. 71 of the Department of Justice dated July 25, 1995, which reads: “LGUs have no power to issue business permits/licenses to the agencies and instrumentalities of the State, of which the PCSO is one, nor demand or collect permit/license fees incident to the issuance of such permits/licenses.”

Villania maintained: “Unless the foregoing is changed or modified, the PNP has the obligation to respect and obey as a matter of course.”

“But if the LGU believes otherwise, nothing will prevent it from raising its authority under the Local Government Code to padlock or close business establishments it deemed operating illegally or without permit.”

“But the same action must be taken by the LGU itself using its vast resources,” he added.

He further clarified: “PNP personnel cannot definitively provide law enforcement action for those matters which by themselves do not show violation of criminal laws, more so in this case, when the issue is embroiled in legal controversy.”

He also noted that it is very unfortunate that PNP personnel in their obedience to directive or request from some quarters have been hailed to court from a series of criminal, civil, and administrative violations.

In a related development, City Mayor John Bongat confirmed to the Bicol Standard that he has already filed a petition for injunction against the STL operation in Naga City.

Last month, he voiced his vehement objection to the operation of STL in Naga City based on legal and moral grounds.

Evenchance holds office at DSI Building, Magsaysay Avenue, Naga City, and is represented by its Vice President Jerome A. Bañez, and PCSO, represented by its General Manager Alexander Balutan.