Kidapawan padlocks STL booths

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/12 December) – The city mayor’s office has padlocked close to a hundred small town lottery booths (STL) for various violations.

Mayor Joseph Evangelista said these booths stood along road-right-of-way and within 100 meters away from places of worship and educational institutions, in addition to not having business permits.

An inspection team from the mayor’s office, city legal officer and city treasurer started padlocking the booths on Monday.

“More booths, because they’re more than a hundred, which are located in private lots, would soon be padlocked,” the mayor said.

Rodolfo Gantuangco, an official of the Miracle Pick Gaming Corporation, franchise holder of STL for North Cotabato, said he was surprised by the move of the city government.

“The Miracle owns these booths. As franchise holder, we are no longer required to pay local taxes,” he said in Cebuano.

Gantuangco, a former vice mayor of Kidapawanan, said the company will file charges against the city government.

“Our lawyers are already told to prepare the charges,” he said.

He argued that the local government “is just an extension of the national government.  We pay our taxes directly to the national government because we are the franchise holder of the STL here.”

But Evangelista said he is not swayed.

“We held to the belief that only the main office of the Miracle Pick Gaming, which is located at Barangay Lanao here, is exempted from local taxes.  But their booths, which are placed outside of the main office, are not excused so they have to pay taxes.”

He said Miracle must pay fees for locational clearance, zoning clearance, building permit, and for fire inspection safety certificate.

They are given 60 days to comply with the requirements, the mayor added. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)