Press Release
March 30, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today commended Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte for his steadfast stand against the operation of the Small Town Lottery (STL) in his city and urged him not to bow to Malacañang pressure to allow the resumption of the numbers game on experimental run.

Pimentel said the Palace, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and Department of Interior and Local Government should respect the position of Mayor Belmonte in opposing the STL operation based on his firm belief that the government has no business sponsoring and promoting any form of gambling because it erodes the moral foundation of the citizens.

As local chief executive of Quezon City, Mayor Belmonte has taken the position that STL, or any form of gambling for that matter, is inimical to the welfare of his constituents. He believes that it is wrong to encourage the people to gamble away their hard-earned money and crave for instant fortune instead of instilling in them the moral values of industry and perseverance, the minority leader said.

Upon Belmontes order, the police stopped the operation of STL in Quezon City over the objection of the Benchmark Acquisition International Corp., which was authorized by the PCSO to be its local gaming agent in the premier city.

Benchmarks STL operation was backed by a resolution from the Quezon City Council. But Mayor Belmonte said the operation was illegal because it has no business permit from his office.

Pimentel said Malacañang should not insist on the STL operation in Quezon City if the decision of the mayor is not to allow it. He stressed that local government units are autonomous and as such their authority in running their own affairs should not be encroached upon by the national government.

In opposing the operation of STL, the lone senator from Mindanao assailed the government for assuming the role as gambling operator instead of mounting a no-nonsense crackdown on jueteng and forcefully implementing the new anti-gambling law.

I am against STL because it means the government has given up the fight against illegal gambling. Its a cop-out. Now, its the government that is acting like a jueteng lord, he said.

Pimentel said the launching of STL could not be justified by the revenues that the government would supposedly generate from the numbers game because these consist of money which the ordinary people should have otherwise spent for the food, medicines, education and other basic needs of their families.

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