PCSO extends STL for 3 months as IRR for new game Loterya yet to be finalizedBy Tonette Orejas
Inquirer Central Luzon
ANGELES CITY, Philippines—The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) cannot start the PCSO Loterya ng Bayan (PLB) this July as a substitute to the agency’s Small Town Lottery (STL), contrary to an earlier announcement by President Benigno Aquino III in Quezon.
“The board extended STL for three months pending the release of the revised [implementing rules and regulations of PLB],” PCSO chair Margarita Juico said in a text message to the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Monday.
The contracts that the PCSO gave to its agents to run STL will expire on June 30.
In a phone interview, PCSO general manager Jose Ferdinand Rojas II assured the public that PLB would be introduced despite the delay.
Rojas first announced the new game in November 2010, when the Senate investigated allegations by retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz and former Pampanga Gov. Eddie Panlilio that STL was being used as cover for the illegal numbers game jueteng.
“We do not want to create a vacuum that would lead to loss of employment and government revenues,” Rojas said, in defending the extension of STL.
STL, which began during the administration of former President Corazon Aquino, was revived by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2006 in an effort to stop jueteng.
From February 2006 to May 2013, STL grossed P18 billion from 19 agents, Rojas said. The PCSO fought off a proposal by the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo to transfer to local governments the regulation of STL and its replacement game.
Rojas said PLB’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR) were being refined, citing the May 13 elections as a cause of delay in the consultations.
The changes include procedures and adjustments in allocations. In the old IRR, 55 percent of the gross revenue is set aside for prize money, 30 percent to charity and 15 percent to operating funds of the PCSO.
Rojas said more than 200 companies have applied to operate PLB. He said that as of last week, there were many provinces where there are no PLB applications.
PLB, he said, targets a minimum gross revenue of P10 billion to P15 billion a year.
Earlier, Juico said illegal gambling lords would be kept out of the operations of PLB, which would be fully automated.
Juico said a strict screening process and auditing had delayed the introduction of PLB, which was initially scheduled for launching in February 2012.
The PCSO did not heed the demand of Panlilio to stop both STL and PLB. Panlilio said STL took the income of poor bettors and cheated the government of taxes due to non-use of official receipts.
Juico said the PCSO used P4 billion from its STL income to pay off debts incurred by the previous board.
Jueteng in seven regions grossed P2.575 billion monthly, according to a report the police submitted to the Senate in October 2010.
STL, on the other hand, made P9.5 billion in gross receipts from February 2006 to August 2010, PCSO officials told the Senate.