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Valenzuela City Takes Bold Step to Combating Illegal Gambling

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Valenzuela City took a decisive step towards eradicating illegal gambling activities within its jurisdiction during a recent city council meeting.

Mayor Wes Gatchalian, Vice Mayor Lorie Natividad-Borja, and 1st District City Councilor Ricar Enriquez were among the key figures in attendance.

Recognizing the detrimental impact of illegal gambling on the lives of individuals, the council passed three ordinances aimed at addressing these issues head-on. Ordinance No. 1105 emerged as a game-changer by imposing a complete ban on Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) from operating within the territorial limits of Valenzuela City.

Those found in violation of this prohibition will face severe penalties, including fines of up to ₱300,000 ($5,431) and imprisonment for a maximum of one year. This bold move demonstrates the city's commitment to safeguarding residents through gaming regulation and cracking down on illicit gambling activities.

In addition to the POGO ban, Ordinance No. 1107 was passed, temporarily suspending new applications for online gambling and Small Town Lotteries (STL) for a period of five years. This moratorium will enable the city to thoroughly review its zoning ordinance and make any necessary adjustments. Existing businesses engaged in online gambling and STL operations are expected to continue their activities uninterrupted.

Mayor Gatchalian, who has championed this cause since assuming office, expressed his satisfaction with the passage of these ordinances. He emphasized the need for a comprehensive study, particularly about POGOs, as they fall under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), while STL is administered by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). Mayor Gatchalian made it clear that the city did not intend to defy national agencies but instead sought to protect its citizens from the perils of gambling.

Between Local Practices and Illicit Gambling

However, the city council also recognized the existence of unique local practices, such as the traditional game of Sakla, often played during wakes to raise funds for burial services and support grieving families. To address this issue, Ordinance No. 1108 prohibits participation in any illegal or unauthorized activities. Violators of this ordinance will face fines of up to ₱5,000, while organizers could be fined up to ₱50,000 and imprisoned for a year.

To strike a balance between tradition and regulation, Mayor Gatchalian announced that the city would contribute a minimum of ₱7,000 towards funeral expenses for Valenzuela City residents. This gesture of support aims to assist families in mourning and reduce reliance on Sakla as a means of financial assistance during difficult times.

Valenzuela City's recent ordinances demonstrate its unwavering commitment to protecting its citizens from the harmful effects of illegal gambling. By taking decisive action, the local government seeks to create a safer environment while ensuring that cultural practices are respected and supported. As the city moves forward, it is hoped that these measures will serve as a model for other regions in the ongoing fight against illegal gambling.

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