BACOLOD CITY – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has charged a village chief in this city and two others in Kabankalan City, both in Negros Occidental province, for alleged involvement in the illegal operation of the Small Town Lottery (STL).
The filing of criminal charges against Noli Villarosa, barangay chair of Tangub here, as well as Joel Alibango of Barangay 5 and Franz Leonard Siguero of Barangay 6 in the southern city, before the Kabankalan City Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday was confirmed by NBI-Bacolod agent-in-charge Renoir Baldovino.
Villarosa immediately denied the charges. “I have no involvement in illegal gambling. I’m willing to be investigated,” he told reporters in a telephone interview.
Baldovino said the investigation showed that in Kabankalan, Villarosa is the “financier” while Alibango and Siguero are the “protectors.”
Also charged was an alias “Ma’am” or “Jane Joe”, tagged as the “manager.”
Villarosa said he cannot be a financier since he does not have the money, adding that it should be proven that he is receiving bet money from the illegal STL operations.
Asked for his reaction on Thursday, Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez said Villarosa’s alleged links to illegal gambling surprised him.
“I’m surprised since I have no reports towards that. Probably the NBI has a basis of what they are doing,” he said.
With the charges filed against Villarosa, the village chief will be given the chance to clear his name and defend himself from the accusations in a proper forum, the mayor added.
Baldovino said the criminal charges filed against the four respondents are for violation of Presidential Decree 1602 as amended by Republic Act 9287, which penalizes persons involved in illegal numbers games.
He said the charges are supported by the testimonies of the village watchman and the bet collectors arrested during an entrapment operation on Feb. 15 in Kabankalan City.
Baldovino said in Negros Occidental and Bacolod City, Super Lucky Beagler Inc. is the only authorized agent of STL, which can operate until February 2024. (PNA)