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The Manila Times logo The Manila Times 09/08/2022 Eugene Y. Adiong
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BACOLOD CITY: Two persons were arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) inside the Libertad Public Market for accepting bets for Small Town Lottery (STL) without a franchise from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Atty. Renoir Baldovino, agent in charge of NBI-Bacolod, said on Friday. Baldovino identified the suspects as Reynne Magbanua Lopez and Arjens Arro Esbida, both residents of Bacolod City. Recovered from them were assorted illegal gambling paraphernalia and P1,500 in cash bets. Baldovino said that they launched the operation after receiving reports that the two were soliciting and accepting bets for STL, and verifying with the PCSO national office that they do not have any franchise. Baldovino said that "they are not legitimate operators." They are even offering bigger cash rewards for bets, he said, but they don't have any obligation to the government as they don't pay anything to the PCSO. "They have a financier. They are part of a bigger illegal gambling syndicate operating in Negros," Baldovino said but did not name any names. "We will still conduct a deeper investigation as to who is behind them," he added. He added that their initial investigation showed that they are even operating outside Bacolod City. There are reports that the illegal gambling outfit has a codename called "Vikings." Lopez and Esbida are currently detained at the NBI detention facility, facing charges for violating Republic Act 9287 or the law that amends Presidential Decree 1602 which imposes a penalty on any person taking part in all forms of illegal gambling by exclusively increasing the penalties on jueteng, masiao and last two while leaving other enumerated illegal gambling activities with the same degree of penalties.

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