Thursday, September 20, 2012

PCSO: STL contracts good until June 2013

PCSO: STL contracts good until June 2013
By Maricar Cinco, NiƱa Calleja, Tonette Orejas
Inquirer Central Luzon, Inquirer Southern Luzon

1:10 am | Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Agents of small-town lottery (STL), a government-operated numbers game, are not scheduled to stop anytime soon because their contracts with the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) are good until the first half of 2013.

“Their contracts are until June 2013, so they are still there,” said PCSO Chairperson Margarita Juico.

President Benigno Aquino announced on Monday that STL would soon be stopped and would be replaced with a new numbers game that would benefit the government and host communities.

The new game Mr. Aquino was referring to was “Loterya ng Bayan,” which the PCSO has been promoting since last year, PCSO General Manager Jose Ferdinand Rojas II told the Philippine Daily Inquirer Tuesday.

Rojas said the new game, once finalized, would be rolled out by the end of the year and replace STL in June 2013.

The PCSO owns the franchise of the STL, which was started during the administration of the late President Corazon Aquino and revived in 2006 during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The President said the STL would be scrapped because it failed to stamp out “jueteng,” an illegal numbers racket.

As of 2010, the PCSO had authorized 29 STL agent-corporations in the country. STL has been operational only in 15 provinces and 4 cities, according to Rojas.

Front for ‘jueteng’
Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz, an antigambling advocate, has claimed that jueteng lords are using the STL as a front for their operations. STL operators are accused of remitting just a small part of their collections to the PCSO, shortchanging the government.

“Cobradores” (collectors) employed by jueteng operators who bought STL franchises are known to show their IDs identifying themselves as legitimate collectors to avoid arrest.

The mechanics for STL and jueteng are almost identical. The only difference is that bets in jueteng involve a pair of numbers from 1 to 37. In STL, the choices are from 1 to 40.

Unlike the PCSO-run lotto, where draws are televised nationwide, STL draws are done locally.

STL cobradores in the City of San Fernando, like Rosalina Marucot, Antonio Garcia and Titong Cunanan, expressed concern about the President’s announcement to scrap STL.

On Tuesday, they went about collecting bets while wearing their STL identification cards. They swore they were not jueteng bet collectors.

“What will we eat if STL is stopped?” Garcia said.

They get 10 percent of the bets they collect. In Marucot’s case, that can run between P40 and P100 per draw. They
get to earn more from “balato” (goodwill money), an amount shared by winners.

STL operations in Pampanga province remained in full swing, with draws held on Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Suncove Corp., an STL agent in Pampanga, said it had not received any order to stop the game.

Then Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo first reviewed STL operations in July 2010 to determine if it really was a front for jueteng.

“Removing STL is a policy that needed to be defined by the administration,” Robredo told the Inquirer in an interview in 2010.

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