Palace: Harder now for STL operators to cheat gov’t
Malacañang on Friday said the “onerous” conditions it had set for the resumption of Small Town Lottery (STL) operations should make it difficult for operators to cheat the government of its rightful earnings.
“From my point of view, the conditions are very onerous on the part of the STL [operators]. And they will have a difficult time coming up with an excuse not to remit or to swindle the government with respect to their shares,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
“In fact, the conditions will prevent the corruption there. Because [they] have to sign [a written undertaking] and there is a forfeiture. There are so many provisions, so they will have a hard time,” he said.
On Thursday, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) announced that President Duterte had lifted his July 26 order suspending STL operations nationwide.
Among the conditions set for the resumption of STL are that authorized agent corporations (AACs) will deposit in the PCSO, apart from their existing cash bonds, another bond equivalent to three months of the PCSO’s share in guaranteed minimum monthly retail receipts (GMMRRs).
The bond will be automatically forfeited in favor of the PCSO, without prejudice to other remedies that may be exercised by the government, should an AAC fail to make a full and timely remittance of its GMMRRs.
Corruption probe continues
Each AAC will also execute a written undertaking that it will comply with its obligations under its STL agreement, will not institute any claims, monetary or otherwise, against the government, or seek a temporary restraining order or injunction from any court to prevent the government from exercising its prerogatives.
The STL implementing rules and regulations (IRR) define the presumptive monthly retail receipts (PMRR) as the presumed minimum monthly sales of an AAC.
AACs are obliged to remit to the PCSO the net total sales collection every Tuesday of the following week (weekly remittance), after deducting agency commission from the prize fund and sales supervisors/representatives’ share from the operating fund.
“In no case shall the total monthly sales collection be lower than the approved PMRR in the area,” according to the IRR. Malacañang said it was still investigating alleged corruption in the PCSO. “I don’t think the investigation with respect to that has been finished, I have not heard of any final report,” Panelo said.
When Mr. Duterte ordered the suspension of all the PCSO’s licensed games, including lotto, STL, Keno and Peryahan ng Bayan last month, he cited massive corruption in the PCSO. He said the government was losing its rightful share of the agency’s earnings.
The President lifted the suspension on lotto on July 30, with Panelo saying their “sanctity remained untainted” and that “regulatory rules [were] followed.”
In Lucena City, some STL bet collectors welcomed the lifting of the suspension order.
“Tatay Digong is really for the masses. He won’t allow poor people like us to go jobless and hungry,” Lucia Merene, 63, a veteran STL bet collector, said.
A bet collector who requested anonymity said, “The real enemies of STL [are] bookies and ‘jueteng’ (an illegal numbers game) and their corrupt cohorts in the local government and police.”
“Bookies” are illegal STL operations that maintain unauthorized betting stations in remote areas to avoid detection by authorities.