By NITZ ARANCON,
LITO RULONA and
JIGGER J. JERUSALEM .
OVER two thousand people in the city and Misamis Oriental alone have joined the long list of the unemployed as a result of President Duterte’s order to close down all betting stations accredited by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
Asrid Jose Bana, president of the Misamis Oriental-Cagayan de Oro Lotto Agents’ Association, his conservative estimate is based on the over one thousand PCSO-accredited outlets in Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental, and assuming that the average number of workers per outlet is two.
Bana said that while his organization is behind Duterte’s anti-corruption campaign, he and his members were hoping that Duterte would reconsider his decision and allow the PCSO’s numbers games to resume.
“Maayo unta kon ipadali ni Presidente Duterte ang investigation sa graft and corruption sa PCSO,” he said.
Throughout Region 10, some 1,900 lottery betting stations have closed down since Saturday, according to Camp Alagar spokesman Lt. Col. Mardy Hortillosa.
Hortillosa said the operators of the betting station cooperated.
“Ang among gihimo pagbutang nalang sa marka nga ‘closed’ kay sila na man mismo ang nagsera sa ilang mga outlet,” he said.
Hortillosa said there was a 100-percent compliance rate in the region.
But the police received criticisms after it was pointed out that the betting stations would naturally stop operations as soon as the PCSO ceased the number games and therefore, there was really no need for law enforcers to close down the outlets.
Hortillosa said, “Kinsa kadtong motaya ug magpataya sa STL (small town lottery) or ‘Peryahan ng Bayan’ sa mga lungsod o syudad dakop na kana.”
There were 1,386 STL outlets, 208 Lotto outlets and 306 ‘Peryahan ng Bayan’ station in the region.
Of the 1,386 STL outlets, 191 were in Cagayan de Oro, 603 in Bukidnon, 105 in Lanao del Norte, 249 in Iligan City, 235 in Misamis Oriental and three in Misamis Occidental.
Of the 208 Lotto outlets, 46 were in Cagayan de Oro, 52 in Bukidnon, 14 in Lanao del Norte, 19 in Iligan City, 29 in Misamis Oriental and 48 in Misamis Occidental.
Of the 306 “Peryahan ng Bayan” outlets, 73 were in Cagayan de Oro, one in Bukidnon, 232 in Misamis Oriental and 48 in Misamis Occidental.
Meanwhile, Sen. Christopher Lawrence Go told reporters here on Saturday that the closure of the thousands of PCSO-accredited betting stations throughout the country won’t have an effect on the operation of the “Malasakit Centers.”
Go, who was at Barangay Macabalan here on Saturday afternoon to extend assistance to survivors of the Mulmac neighborhood fire two weeks ago, told reporters that the closure of numbers game outlets would not even have an impact on the cash aid that PCSO provides the needy.
He said the allocation of the PCSO “has already been budgeted for this year.”
Go also announced that the government will be putting up a Malasakit Center branch at the city hall-owned JR Borja Memorial General Hospital in Barangay Carmen, this city.
He said the Malasakit Center would house representatives from various government agencies such as the PCSO, Department of Health (DOH), Philhealth, and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to address the needs of patients seeking assistance.
The center is an addition to the 38 such one-stop shops based in some medical facilities in the country.
Go also told the crowd some P10 million will be downloaded to the DOH-managed Northern Mindanao Medical Center to be used as medical assistance fund for the region’s indigent patients.
He said he would continue to help the victims of tragedies such as fire even if he is already elected senator.
“Wherever you are in the Philippines, even you are living in the smallest alley, I will come to you,” Go said.
He said the DSWD has also allocated P3,000 in cash assistance to the 61 families who survived the Mulmac fire, which occurred on July 15.
Go also visited the fire victims in the cities of General Santos and Iligan over the weekend.