Senior Inspector Hermogenes Eulatic, police chief of Tigbauan, Iloilo, inspects this ambushed van parked at The Medical City in Molo, Iloilo City where victim Samuel Aguilar, Small Town Lottery franchisee, was taken yesterday morning, March 13, 2017. The rear windshield of the van has been shattered. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

[caption id="attachment_140119" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Senior Inspector Hermogenes Eulatic, police chief of Tigbauan, Iloilo, inspects this ambushed van parked at The Medical City in Molo, Iloilo City where victim Samuel Aguilar, Small Town Lottery franchisee, was taken yesterday morning, March 13, 2017. The rear windshield of the van has been shattered. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN[/caption]

Who wants PCSO franchisee dead?

ILOILO – The Small Town Lottery (STL) operator in Iloilo province was ambushed in Barangay Buyu-an, Tigbauan town yesterday morning.

The 47-year-old Samuel Aguilar, whom Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) director Sandra Cam linked to illegal gambling and illegal drugs, sustained six gunshot wounds but survived. He was taken to The Medical City in Molo, Iloilo City.

The ambush was carried out around 11 a.m. Aguilar was on his way to Iloilo City from Guimbal town aboard a Toyota Hiace Grandia van.

This was the second attempt on the life of Aguilar, owner of Eagle Crest Gaming and Holding Corp., the STL franchisee of PCSO in this province. The first attempt was September last year in Alabang, Muntinlupa City in Metro Manila.

There were two gunmen in the Tigbauan ambush, according to Senior Inspector Hermogenes Eulatic, municipal police chief, citing statements from witnesses that included Aguilar’s bodyguards.

One of the men was driving a motorcycle while the back rider was the one that fired shots at Aguilar’s van, said Eulatic.

Only Aguilar was hurt; his five bodyguards and the van driver weren’t.

“It was obvious that Aguilar was the target. All the bullets were fired on the side of the van where the businessman was seated,” said Eulatic.

Prior to the ambush, Aguilar attended a hearing at the Regional Trial Court (Branch 67) in Guimbal.

There likely was a “spotter” in Guimbal who informed the gunmen where Aguilar was seated, said Eulatic.

FIRST AMBUSH

On Sept. 25, 2017 around 12:50 a.m., four men in a black pickup fired at Aguilar’s black Toyota Fortuner near the corner of Commerce and Filinvest avenues in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.

Aguilar and his driver were unhurt. They later told the Muntinlupa police that the gunmen’s pickup had tailed them.

According to the businessman, two of the gunmen were wearing Philippine National Police t-shirts.

Responding Muntinlupa policemen recovered 28 M-16 bullet casings from the ambush scene.

Just like in the Muntinlupa ambush last year, an M-16 was also used on Aguilar yesterday.

It remained unclear as of this writing if this ambush and the incident in Muntinlupa were related.

Aguilar’s Eagle Crest Gaming Corp. has been operating STL in this province for some two years now.

PCSO’s STL aims to counter illegal gambling.

According to an Eagle Crest employee, Aguilar previously received death threats.

The employee asked not to be identified for security reasons.

The Tigbauan police could not ascertain for now if yesterday’s ambush was business-related.

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group is helping the Tigbauan police in the investigation.

[caption id="attachment_140118" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Four bullet holes are seen on the left side of this van owned by Small Town Lottery franchisee in Iloilo province, Samuel Aguilar. Bullets also shattered the window just above the holes. Aguilar was ambushed yesterday, March 13, 2018. He was taken to the hospital in Iloilo City for treatment. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN[/caption]

SANDRA CAM ALLEGATIONS

Last month, Feb. 12, at the Senate investigation on the PCSO and STL, PCSO director Sandra Cam claimed that Aguilar was an illegal gambling operator and was using STL to avoid detection.

She claimed illegal gambling in Iloilo was raking in the bulk of the money and Eagle Crest was remitting only minuscule STL revenues to the government.

Cam further claimed that Aguilar used to work in the New Bilibid Prisons, was able to establish business links with high-profile drug convicts there, was the major supplier of slain drug lord Melvin Odicta Sr., and was close to former Iloilo City mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog.

Aguilar denied being an illegal gambling operator or illegal drug trafficker.

He lamented that he was being unfairly dragged in the conflict between Cam and PCSO general manager Alexander Balutan.

Cam claimed Aguilar was a friend of Balutan.

Aguilar said he had no ties with Odicta and Mabilog.

Unidentified gunmen shot to death Odicta at the jetty port in Caticlan, Malay, Aklan on Aug. 29, 2016.

Mabilog, on the other hand, was tagged by President Rodrigo Duterte as an illegal drug protector – a charge that the former mayor vehemently denied.

October last year, the Office of the Ombudsman dismissed Mabilog from government service for unexplained wealth.

TIGBAUAN STL ORDINANCECASE

Aguilar was the plaintiff in a petition for declaratory relief urging the court to nullify Tigbauan’s ordinance regulating certain acts of the authorized STL agency, its sales representatives, supervisors and the betting public. Until such petition is resolved, the ordinance could not be implemented.

Through his lawyer John Solinap, Aguilar had opposed the regulatory ordinance as “illegal” because it would contravene a national law giving exclusive authority to the PCSO to regulate its games under Republic Act 1169, hence exempt from the authority of local government units (LGUs) to impose taxes, fees or charges on the PCSO lotto ticket outlets.

Respondent Sangguniang Bayan of Tigbauan was represented by Vice Mayor Virgilio Teruel, a lawyer.

Although Aguilar arrived in court in time for the start of the court hearings at 8:30 a.m., his case was the last item in the court calendar. It was not until around 10:30 a.m. that Judge Nelson Bartolome heard it.

He asked complainant to amend his petition, however, because it failed to implead the municipal mayor, who is the implementor of the ordinance.

Aguilar left Guimbal at 11 a.m./PN

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