PCSO standing pat on STL
The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) is firm in its decision to reinvent Small Town Lottery (STL) as Loterya ng Bayan despite warnings this would again be used as a front for “jueteng,” an illegal numbers racket.
PCSO Chair Margarita Juico on Tuesday said that for the first half of the year, the agency had already collected “nearly P2 billion” from STL, up from the P1.57 billion in the same period last year.
Juico said fine-tuning Loterya’s operations would further raise PCSO revenues.
Improvements being considered include a stricter screening and evaluation of Loterya franchise applicants, social security benefits for bet collectors and more transparency during draws, she said.
“All draws will be done on the premises of the PCSO (local offices) under strict supervision of the staff,” Juico told the Senate blue ribbon committee on Monday.
“The presumptive monthly revenue will be posted and all applicants will be required to state how much they can remit to PCSO in terms of revenues,” she added.
Juico said all bet collectors would be given uniforms and PhilHealth and (Social Security System) benefits.
“Twenty minutes before the draw, the Loterya operator will be required to disclose the amounts of its revenues or collections. There will be three daily draws,” she said.
Loterya operations may be customized to adapt to the unique preferences of residents in certain areas.
“In some areas, there will be variants. Like Mindanao (franchise applicants) can present to the PCSO board their preferences that can be implemented to counter illegal gambling,” Juico said.
The idea of using STL to combat “jueteng” was initially conceived during the term of President Corazon Aquino.
Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, chair of the blue ribbon commitee, is not convinced that a reinvention of STL can do the trick.
“What if the operator cannot meet your evaluation criteria? Just the other day, (Interior) Secretary (Jesse) Robredo complained that the police face a lot of difficulties in the antijueteng drive. If they arrest a jueteng suspect, he shows an STL identification card,” Guingona said.
He wondered if the project could still be shelved.
PCSO General Manager Jose Ferdinand Rojas II said the evaluation of Loterya applicants would be very transparent.
“The objective is to eradicate illegal numbers games with the help of other agencies and increase government revenues. We are working to try to minimize imperfections,” Rojas said.
Guingona countered that despite all these efforts, there was no assurance that PCSO earnings from the Loterya would be higher than the take of jueteng operators.
Nation of gamblers
“I think we are becoming a nation of gamblers,” Sen. Franklin Drilon said.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV suspects that the Loterya could be a scheme to “legalize” jueteng.
“We’re trying to meet it head on,” Juico assured him.
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