MANILA, Aug. 7 — The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office on Monday urged local government units anew to give their all-out support to state-sanctioned Small Town Lottery and help the government in its fights against illegal gambling.
PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan said such support from mayors and governors are very crucial so as not to waste the efforts of the government in fighting all forms of illegal gambling as this becomes the breeding ground of corruption.
Last week, the Congress expressed their support to the PCSO’s effort in increasing revenues for the government by expanding the STL nationwide as long as the government is getting its rightful share.
“Once again, I urge the mayors and governors and the local police nationwide to unite in the fight against jueteng and other forms of illegal gambling, and identify those gambling lords, their coddlers and file appropriate charges against them,” Balutan said in a statement.
He said though STL is winning the ground against illegal gambling, they still need all the help they can get to increase revenues for this government. “Jueteng is still rampant and we must eradicate it the soonest possible,” he added.
Balutan believes that the efforts of the government will not go to waste as long as local government units (LGUs) and the police will work together in fighting illegal gambling which continues to hinder STL operations.
According to Balutan, in the first semester of 2017, cities and municipalities, congressional districts, and provincial governments all over the country received more than P271 million from STL operations.
“As STL revenue increases, your share also increases. So, can you help us promote STL against jueteng in your area? It is going to be beneficial to your constituents because you will surely receive funds for your health services and programs,” he said.
Balutan stressed that giving shares to the LGUs are meant to eliminate corruptions. He described how it filled the pockets of elected officials and government employees, and allow gambling lords to continue their illegal activities.
STL, as the only legal numbers game has been in the response to President Duterte’s marching order to stamp out illegal gambling, particularly to combat “jueteng”, that continued to proliferate in different parts of the country.
“Let us put President Duterte’s dream into a reality in attaining the quest for corruption-free government,” he said.
The general manager asked the mayors and provincial governors to instruct their police to go after illegal gambling operators in their area and protect STL.
He also cited the 15 days ultimatum issued by Philippine National Police chief Ronald Dela Rosa to all regional directors to stop illegal gambling and if they don’t comply they will be relieved from their post.
“On the alleged bookies of some STL players, we urge PNP to identify them and submit prima facie evidence so we will revoke their authority to operate STL,” Balutan said.
He likewise encourages the public to report any illegal gambling in their area and support the STL because everything will come back to them through charitable programs and services of the agency.
During the public hearing on the proposed 2018 national budget on Wednesday, House Appropriations Committee chair Karlo Nograles stressed the need to impose stricter rules and regulations on the operation of the STL.
Nograles said the present set-up of the STL operations could only become fronts of illegal gambling lords to legitimize their operations.
“The STL operations were allowed by law to eliminate illegal gambling. Sad to say, it has become a convenient front for the proliferation of illegal gambling like jueteng,” Nograles said.
Nograles warned that the government is still losing a lot of potential revenues because some of these STL franchise holders are the very people who used to run illegal gambling operations like “jueteng”.
“The PCSO chairman (Jose Jorge Corpuz) admitted during our second day open public hearing on the 2018 national budget that in some areas, some STL operators are raking in PHP400 million daily but only declare PHP100 million,” he said.
Nograles stressed the need to review the PCSO charter including the guidelines covering the grant of franchises for STL.
“There is the need to review the PCSO charter, its rules and regulations relative to the grant and operation of franchises to pinpoint legal loopholes that are used by concerned parties to cover their illegal gambling activities that deprive government of much needed funds to fuel the government,” he said.
“We need to dig deeper and sanitize the rules and procedures in the operation of STL. We need to ensure that these so-called gaming lords are no longer doubling as gambling lords,” Nograles said.
Corpuz said there are now 92 STL operators that have been accredited from the original figure of 18.
STL retail receipts for the first semester this year is PHP6.17 billion as compared to last year’s PHP2.47 billion.