CITY OF SAN FERNANDO?The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) is ready to approve this week the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the ?Loterya ng Bayan,? which would replace the Small Town Lottery (STL) in April, PCSO Chair Margarita Juico said.
The PCSO is rolling out the new game and its IRR almost five months since the Senate investigated allegations that Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno, a friend and appointee of President Aquino, was a leading protector of the illegal numbers racket ?jueteng? that reportedly proliferated by using the STL as a front.
Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz and Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago had submitted lists to the Senate of suspected jueteng operators and protectors who included elected officials.
Puno, who denied protecting jueteng, said the numbers game made as much as P30 billion a year.
The STL reported gross receipts of only P9.5 billion from February 2006 to August 2010.
Jose Ferdinand Rojas II, PCSO general manager, told the Senate in October that the new IRR for STL was almost done. Explaining the delay, Juico said the IRR had undergone ?refinements? after consultations with the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Philippine National Police and STL permit holders.
?All voices have been heard,? she said by phone on Tuesday.
STL permits issued to 34 agent-corporations will continue to be valid ?until we say they?re not,? Juico said.
She said the STL, which began under the late President Corazon Aquino and was resurrected under then President Macapagal-Arroyo in 2005 to fight jueteng, was out.
Juico said the Loterya ng Bayan, which will have new mechanics, will ?not be a front for jueteng.?
?Through the loterya, the PCSO will help in alienating jueteng and stopping interest in jueteng. The loterya is different from jueteng. People will trust the loterya because they will be sure that money goes through government,? she said.
?More than ever, we are determined to get more income for the government,? said Juico.
After the publication of the IRR in newspapers, the PCSO will begin accepting applications from interested loterya operators until the end of February, she added.
?The existing [STL] operators can be reinstated if evaluation shows good results,? Juico said.
By the end of March, the PCSO is expected to have a new set of ?loterya? permit holders who can start operations in April, she said.
As franchise owner, the PCSO will impose a ?presumptive quota? on the income of every operator based on the features of the area where the game is played.
Asked how bets would be documented, Juico said this would be ?by loterya bet slips, until the infrastructure is ready for hand held terminals.?
Fr. Eddie Panlilio, former Pampanga governor, told senators the PCSO was unable to determine the exact amount wagered by bettors on STL because, as in jueteng, collectors did not issue receipts. The bets (a pair of numbers chosen from 1 to 40) are written on ordinary strips of paper (papelitos), not on PCSO slips.