PHILIPPINE Charity Sweepstakes Office Chairman Jose Jorge Corpuz on Tuesday warned the Meridien Vista Gaming Corp. to immediately stop its illegal numbers game operation in Albay and other provinces even as he asked the police to enforce the law.
“The operation of Meridien outside Cagayan is not sanctioned by PCSO. The government is deeply invested in the success of STL to generate funds for priority health programs. The PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines have been tasked by the President to help protect PCSO’s STL,” Corpuz clarified.
Meridien, associated with gambling operator Charlie “Atong” Ang, got a permit to operate from the Cagayan Exclusive Economic Zone Authority based in Sta. Ana, Cagayan, to operate jai alai fronton that mutated also into a “virtual two” lottery game.
Corpuz issued the order after the spokesperson of the Albay provincial police claimed Meridien had a permit from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to operate the numbers game since 2008 despite the fact that the PCSO had an approved Authorized Agent Corporations now playing the STL in the province.
PCSO general manager Alexander Balutan said he sought the assistance of the PNP to conduct a crackdown on illegal gambling activities.
“STL is the only legal numbers game in the country. On the other hand, the government does not earn a single cent [from Meridien],” he said.
He said Meridien’s numbers game operation is not authorized under the 2016 Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations for STL.
The PCSO recently launched the expanded STL operations composed of 56 AACs is a bid to generate revenues of P27 billion for charity this year. President Rodrigo Duterte has promised to buy free medicines for the poor, improve medical services, strengthen health programs, and expand institutional partnerships, among others.
Balutan also reminded the public that there are only two institutions authorized by the law to operate gaming or play lotteries: PCSO and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.
“We have to support our 56 AACs in their entry in the market,” Balutan urged the public and government officials.
Records show that Albay and Camarines were among the 56 municipalities that were given permits and accreditation by the PCSO to operate STL.
In 2011, Meridien was able to secure a Temporary Restraining Order from the Court of Appeals, which allows it to operate within Ceza and reportedly, 12 to 14 other provinces as well, including Pangasinan, Cavite, Rizal, and Oriental Mindoro.
Last year, the House Committee on Games and Amusement started a probe into the illegal operation of Meridien.