Jueteng operators told: Go legal
The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office on Tuesday announced it has increased the number of small town lottery operators from 18 to 56 in a bid to curb illegal gambling and generate massive funds for social services.
PCSO Chairman George Corpuz said STL, which was originally implemented to rival the similar but illegal jueteng" numbers game, will see its revenues rise to almost P28 billion this year, four times higher than the previous year's collection.
"PCSO expanded the small town lottery program. From the regional 18 corporations since 2006, starting this year, we will now have 56 corporations that will operate nationwide," Corpuz announced at a Palace press briefing.
"If the 18 corporations were able to generate P4.7 billion to the government last calendar year 2015 and in 2016, it became P6.4 billion after we came in in the last 3 months, for 2017, we expect to generate about P27.8 billion, minimum."
Corpuz said the revenue will be used for PCSO's flagship social services, including the Individual Medical Assistance Program (IMAP), and the upgrading of equipment at public hospitals.
MORE OPERATORS, LESS CORRUPTION
But aside from turning over more funds, opening the STL to competition will also rid the country of illegal gambling by giving jueteng financiers a chance to become legitimate lottery operators, the PCSO official claimed.
STL operators, he added, will be tasked with reporting propagators of jueteng.
"Do you think STL operators allow jueteng operators to operate in their area when there is a campaign against illegal gambling and is the job of STL operators to report? I doubt," Corpuz said.
PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan also announced that the gaming agency has tapped the Philippine National Police to head a crackdown against jueteng financiers.
Balutan told illegal gambling operators: "We offer you both an invitation and a warning: go legal."
"Today, as we formally launch the expanded small town lottery here in Malacañang, we finally draw the line and declare that it is time to put a stop to illegal gambling. It is no secret to everyone that illegal gambling has been the scourge of this country for the longest time, spawning corruption in different agencies and levels of government," he added.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, head of the Task Force on Illegal Gambling, earlier said President Duterte ordered the STL shake-up, believing that its operators were only remitting 10 to 15 percent of what he believes should go to the government.
The National Bureau of Investigation has claimed that some STL operators defrauded the government of at least P50 billion a year by underdeclaring their sales.
The new STL operators, who were selected through a bidding process, will post cash bonds and remit a fixed amount to the government everyday, based on their bids.
Aguirre said the government will draw funds from cash bonds if an operator fails to meet the daily quota.