Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Order to close STL called illegal

PCSO says LGUs cannot prohibit STL operations


ANGELES CITY – The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) has notified Angeles Mayor Francis "Blueboy" Nepomuceno that local government units (LGUs) have no legal basis for ordering the closure of the Small Town Lottery (STL) outlets.

In a letter sent yesterday to Nepomuceno, PCSO said that a local government cannot prohibit the etablishment of lotto outlets by PCSO.

The autonomy vested in local governments does not mean that LGUs may enact ordinances or resolutions that go against laws duly enacted by Congress.

This principle is based on the country’s system of government in which the power of local government to legislate and enact ordinances or resolutions is merely a delegated power coming from Congress.

A local government cannot invoke local autonomy to go against this principle because the Constitution merely mandates "decentralization" and did not make local governments sovereign within the state or an "imperium in imperio" (empire within an empire).

The PCSO cited a 2001 Supreme Court (SC) ruling on the same problem between the PCSO and the LGUs.

Earlier, Nepomuceno reportedly asked the police to raid STL outlets here, citing alleged violation of Republic Act 7160. He also said the business permits used by the STL operators were issued illegally.

The first-term mayor also wrote last July 19 to PCSO officials a letter telling them that he deemed the STL operations illegal.

"In view of all the foregoing legal and factual considerations, the PCSO is requesting that your good office to cause the immediate recall of your July 19, 2007 order of closure of operation of the PCSO STL Project in Angeles City, for the welfare of all parties who benefit from the continued operation of the STL Project," stated the letter sent to Nepomuceno by Lauro Patiag, PCSO legal department manager.

The PCSO, in the same letter, told Nepomuceno that "the authority of Lake Tahoe to conduct test run of the PCSO STL Project in Angeles City has been renewed for another year by the PCSO board of directors, per Board Resolution No. 254, series of 2007, effective June 13, 2007 ."

The Lake Tahoe Gaming and Amusement Corp. is the duly authorized STL agent here since March 2006, the PCSO said.

The PCSO said the city government was able to get its 10 percent share or some R10 million from the operations of the STL from March 8, 2006 to June 30, 2007.

"We are confident that, with your support for the PCSO STL Project whose main objectives are to eradicate the illegal numbers game (jueteng), to generate decent and legitimate employment to displaced cabos and cobradores, and to generate additional revenues and funding for charity fund in the local government units for their health, welfare-related and other charitable projects for the needy in their respective localities, your good self, as the newly elected Mayor of your beloved city, will be able to provide the much needed and much sought-after assistance by your indigent constituents in Angeles City," Conrado Zabella, PCSO on-line lottery sector assistant general manager, stated in his recent letter to Nepomuceno.

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