CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Philippines— The board of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PSCO) has postponed the launch of the PCSO Loterya ng Bayan (PLB), through which government aims to kill the illegal numbers racket “jueteng” and earn at least P1 billion a month.
The board has not fixed a new date for the launch, Liza Gabuyo, officer in charge of the PCSO’s lottery games, said by telephone on Thursday.
PCSO Chair Margarita Juico had announced that the PLB would replace the Small Town Lottery (STL) in May. The board approved the new game’s implementing rules and regulations as early as February.
“There’s no definite date. [The launch is reset] until further notice,” Gabuyo said.
She said the decision was not in response to a request of Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, who had wanted the PCSO to defer the launch after August.
“We want a time lag. The transition (from STL to PLB) might not be clear. All games must be stopped. That means that if there are [bet collections] tomorrow, that’s jueteng or that’s jai alai. It’s better if we are off to a clear start,” Robredo said.
He said “fighting jueteng is difficult when there’s a legal cover,” referring to STL and jai alai.
Gabuyo said the introduction of the PLB was set for a later date because PCSO officials were “busy with controversies.”
She did not say what those were but in recent days, Juico, citing findings by the Commission on Audit, disclosed that then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo supposedly diverted the agency’s charity funds for intelligence purposes, made the PCSO pay for hospital expenses endorsed by her political allies and distribute ambulances to them, and released funds as well to several bishops for the purchase of vehicles.
Gabuyo said the board also agreed to give 197 corporations and cooperatives, including 21 STL agent-corporations, until July 15 to submit requirements. The deadline was June 30.
She said the extension gave the PCSO monitoring unit more time to evaluate the applications.
Regarded a failure during the administration of the late President Corazon Aquino, STL was revived in 2005 by the PCSO on the instruction of Arroyo to eliminate jueteng.
The PCSO resumed the STL in known jueteng territories, where in seven provinces the gross sales amounted to P2.575 billion monthly, according to a report submitted by the police’s directorate for intelligence to the Senate in October.
Documentary requirements for the PLB include a feasibility study that provides information on illegal numbers games in the proposed area, the estimated daily sales there, and financial statistics indicating the possible monthly retail receipts. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon