The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) clarified Friday, March 18, that it will never allow the operation of the illegal number game "Peryahan ng Bayan" contrary to the claims being floated in some reports.
Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, DILG spokesperson, refuted the claims allegedly made by a tabloid columnist at Pilipino Star Ngayon that DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año has directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to allow the operation of certain illegal number games.
"Malaking kalokohan, (It is a big nonesense). Secretary Año has not and will never issue such a directive to the PNP to condone illegal gambling activities such as Peryahan ng Bayan. The DILG does not tolerate much more condone illegal gambling activities," Malaya said.
The DILG recently received a letter from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), the government agency that regulates competitive legal gaming products, directing it to verify the authenticity of the claims written by the columnist about Año's supposed order to the PNP to exempt 'Peryahan ng Bayan' from its anti-illegal gambling operations.
The column supposedly stated: "Sa kautusan n’yang hulihin ang mga managers, operators, agents at empleyado ng illegal numbers games, nilinaw ni Sec. Año na hindi kasali ang mga gaming products na may basbas ng PCSO o dili kaya’y ‘yaong may ‘final and executory court decisions/orders injunction and/or Status Quo Ante order, pursuant to Republic Act No. 9287, DILG Memorandum Circular 2010-100 and other relevant laws.’”
In her letter to the DILG, PCSO vice-chairperson and general manager Royina Marzan Garma said that there is a certain Peryahan ng Bayan operator that goes around and shows the newspaper column to police and local government officials, claiming of Año's approval of their operation.
Malaya said that the opinion piece is not only malicious and misleading but also completely false with no basis and authentic source.
“It is totally fake news. Kuwentong kutsero (hearsay). Malaking kalokohan ang sinasabi ng artikulo na ito (The article is a big joke). This should have never been allowed by the publishers and editors of Pilipino Star Ngayon. Even commentaries and opinion articles can’t be used to spread fake news or information,” he added.
Malaya called on all media entities and practitioners to practice credible reporting and responsible practice of freedom of speech.
"Hindi po dahil opinion article eh puwede ng magpalaganap ng fake news (Fake news can be spread just because it is an opinion article). It cannot be a cloak against the responsible exercise of freedom of the press,” he emphasized.
The DILG spokesperson warned operators of the ‘Peryahan ng Bayan’ to cease operation or face possible arrests and sanctions following reports that people involved in the illegal gaming product were using the said Pilipino Star Ngayon commentary to deceive patrons and the public that they are allowed to operate.
The management of the said tabloid has yet to issue a response on Malaya's statements.