By Manny T. Ugalde
LEGAZPI CITY: After courageously coming out exposing local rackets such as illegal gambling including in small-town lottery operation and the bankrupt Albay Electric Cooperative, a mayor said he will continue in his crusade saying he would do a "Panlilio"—in reference to Gov. Ed Panlilio of Pampanga.
Businessman and Mayor Celso de los Angeles of Sto. Domingo in Albay said Panlilio's efforts in exposing irregularities in his province has gotten the support of bishops despite of his unpopularity among local officials.
De los Angeles had bought a radio program a year ago where he started exposing anomalous local transactions at the bankrupt Albay Electric Cooperative which was recently acquired by the National Power Corp. for rehabilitation.
De los Angeles said the lottery operation in Albay which is the only one in Bicol and managed by Pacific Rim Corp. have allegedly been misappropriating the remittance intended for municipalities, cities and the province in collaboration with local officials.
Local officials have interpreted de los Angeles moves as indicative of the mayor's ambition to become governor.
Adding support to de los Angeles efforts in combating corruption, the diocese of Legazpi issued its latest pastoral letter condemning jueteng and other forms of illegal gambling, including lottery.
Bishop Lucilo Quiambao of the Legazpi diocese said lottery has no right to operate in Albay because of the church objection saying the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) had issued certification to the effect that lottery cannot operate in places where objection is open and mounting.
The provincial board approved the Albay lottery operation in 2005 during the time of Gov. Fernando Gonzales in a hope it would stop jueteng. With lottery, however, jueteng operation has worsened using lottery as front.
The bishop said lottery does not operate in other Bicol provinces because of vigilant objection from local officials and the church.
Lawyer Joel Descallar, president of Pacific Rim Corporation that operates lottery in Albay denied the mayor's allegations.
In Tabaco City, residents said it is jueteng that operates while lottery is only a front.
De los angeles said he had long challenged provincial board member Harold Imperial, chair of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Games and Amusement Committee to conduct an investigation saying he was willing to testify. But Imperial has never dared to call for an investigation, de los Angeles said.
Recently, Gov. Joey Salceda of Albay asked the provincial Philippine National Police command and the PCSO to stop the lottery operation following negative publicities.
Both, the local PCSO office and the lottery operator said lottery operation would stop only if there is an order to stop from PCSO-Manila
According to de los Angeles, his detractors have been sending him threats through text messages saying they also resorted in painting his dozens of rural banks as in collapse through publicity. He said all these would not stop him from doing a "Panlilio."