Defensor rolls out the red carpet for STL


After being kept out of the province for more than five years since it began operating, Small Town Lottery (STL) can now send out its bet collectors to the 42 municipalities and one component city to bring this numbers game into the daily lives of the people. This came about after Iloilo governor Arthur Defensor Sr. revealed he has issued a “Certificate of No Objection” in favor of Around the World Gaming Corp. to do business in Iloilo anytime now.

Defensor insisted he specifically chose Around the World Gaming Corp. “because it’s the only one with a franchise from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.” But everybody knows that the corporation was granted a midnight franchise by the PCSO just before its principal’s sister-in-law, then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, was due to step down at the end of her term on June 30, 2010. PCSO has since cancelled the franchise for Around the World Gaming Corp., thereby opening the numbers game to whichever company is given a permit in the weeks ahead.

Defensor’s announcement was not unexpected. From the start, it was widely known that Defensor had struck a deal with Rep. Iggy Arroyo, the principal owner along with jueteng lord Eddie Gonzales of Bicol, to invade Iloilo province shortly after he won the election on May 14. The PCSO granted Around the World its questionable franchise on May 18, 2010. According to sources, Defensor was going to get a substantial cut of the jueteng proceeds along with his provincial administrator, Dr. Raul Banias. Banias served as the liaison between Arroyo and Defensor, the sources said.

STL has been reported to be a cover for jueteng operations in other parts of the country, especially after Gonzalez was exposed as a principal partner in the enterprise. Retired Dagupan archbishop Oscar Cruz pointed to Gonzalez as one of the biggest jueteng lords in the country today.

The question now is whether Defensor will honor his own approval once he finds out that Around the World has been taken out of the game. In several interviews over Bombo Radyo Iloilo, PCSO General Manager Margie Juico indicated that the Arroyo-owned company has been stripped of the authority to undertake the numbers game in Iloilo province.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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