30 lottery ushers in Kidapawan cry foul

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 24 Oct) – Some 30 ushers of Miracle Pick Gaming Corporation, franchise holder of small town lottery (STL) in North Cotabato, cried foul when they were allegedly taken out from the roster of the company’s commission-based workers last week.

Six of them were apprehended Friday last week by authorities in Kidapawan City for allegedly engaging in illegal numbers game.

Erlinda Bolatao, an STL usher, said she was surprised when told that she could no longer transact business with the Miracle Pick Gaming Corporation.

She said this happened after her group, about 30 of them, collected P7,270 in bets for a certain number on a particular day, which won more than half a million pesos.

Bolatao claimed the company accused her of doing “illegal activities” while working as an STL usher, which she denied vehemently.

Last Saturday, Bolatao and a certain Henry Baruis, together with 20 STL users, met with Mayor Joseph Evangelista to seek help.

On that day, the group filed a formal complaint at the mayor’s office, and accused the company of refusing to pay bettors of their winning number for the “Last 2” lottery game.

The company, represented by former Kidapawan City Mayor Rodolfo Gantuangco, denied Bolatao’s accusations and claimed they had already paid the winning bettors.

Gantuangco said they released P12 million as payments for the winning number.

On Monday, Evangelista wrote a letter addressed to the Sangguniang Panlungsod where he urged the council to craft an ordinance that would regulate STL operations in the city.

The mayor has also requested the Philippine Charity and Sweepstakes Office to send in their authorized agents to Kidapawan City to conduct proper coordination with the local government as regards the STL operations.

“Similarly, it is urgently requested that should the Committee on Ordinances, Legal Matters, Rules, and Privileges find it legal for Miracle Pick Gaming Corporation to conduct or operate STL, including Last Two and Last Three in Kidapawan City, a resolution of ‘No Objection’ be issued for the proper guidance of the people of Kidapawan,” the letter said.

The Sanggunian, for its part, has certified urgent Evangelista’s appeal as among their agenda for Thursday’s regular session. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)