“I can’t speak on behalf of the show. I’m not a creator; I’m just a pawn.” Randy Harrison
By Alex P. Vidal
THE main reason why small town lottery (STL) was not legalized in the province of Iloilo is because then Gov. Neil D. Tupas Sr. was against illegal gambling per se.
Under Tupas, STL was never a serious topic.
It’s a taboo.
Tupas would pay attention to anyone who visited his office and even his house in Hechanova, Jaro district, Iloilo City but would sneer at those who would convince him to support gambling operation in the province.
Although the provincial board had passed a resolution interposing no objection to the operation of STL in the province, it met a major snag due to Tupas’ lackadaisical attitude.
No one could fathom why Tupas, who reigned from 2001 until 2010, was so allergic to gambling.
On several occasions, Tupas gave cold shoulder treatment to liaisons of gambling operators lobbying for the STL in the province.
Reports that Tupas “nixed a monthly payola” from illegal gambling operators were confirmed by the most diligent factotum of Bogart, one of Iloilo’s most powerful and most influential illegal gambling operators.
“Sakit sa ulo na si gob (Tupas). Ka tig a gid. (It’s hard to convince Governor Tupas. He is really hard),” the diligent factotum grumbled.
The grapevine was so loud at that time that as long as Tupas was the governor, there’s no way for STL or any gambling activity to prosper, much less be legalized in the province.
Under the administration of Gov. Arthur “Art” Defensor Sr., gambling or STL found light at the end of the tunnel, finally.
In fact, Defensor is himself pushing to allow STL in the province in order to solve the problems brought by its clandestine operations.
The governor’s ally in the provincial board, Manny Gallar, has started the ball rolling.
In the recent regular session of the provincial board, Gallar sponsored a resolution pushing for legalization of STL.
Gallar’s move came in the heels of former Iloilo first district congressman Oscar “Oca” Garin’s Sr. saber-rattling that some municipal mayors and police chiefs in his district were receiving protection racket from illegal gambling operators.
Interestingly, Garin’s only son, Rep. Oscar “Richard” Garin Jr., acting as chair of the committee as a whole, introduced the board resolution in 2010 when the latter was still the vice governor.
Garin Jr’s committee in 2010 held public consultations and concluded that “the operation of STL in the province will not contribute in cultivating a culture of immoral gambling among the Ilonggos; the societal value of STL as a tool to eradicate jueteng, an illegal numbers game, may be enhanced by allowing its operations, and from the standpoint of government as the primary agency charged with addressing the needs of its people, it can be prudently argued that the funds generated from STL appear to promise available resources for a more responsive and effective delivery of basis services to its constituents.”
STL charity fund sharing scheme suggested that the host city or municipality gets the biggest slice of the STL revenue share at 10 percent.
Capitol and the PNP will get five percent apiece.
Each of the five districts of Iloilo will earn 2.5 percent.
With Defensor’s imprimatur, Gallar’s resolution is expected to have a smooth sailing.
Gambling proponents think now is the right time to step up the campaign to legalize STL because of the apparent harmonious relationship between Defensor and the provincial legislature.
No feud means no opposition.
No check and balance?
When he was still anchorman of Bombo Radyo Iloilo, Gallar lambasted illegal gambling operations in the city and province in his early morning radio program.
He was fearless and consistent in his anti-illegal gambling commentaries.
As a provincial board member, Gallar now advocates for STL’s legalization.
A 360-degree turn for the diminutive politician from Cabatuan, Iloilo.
He must only be a pawn in this saga.