STL trains guns on illegal gambling
By the PCSO Reportorial Team
The expanded operations of Small Town Lottery (STL) brought remarkable earnings at P15.7 billion last year, up by 183.63 percent from P6.46 billion in 2016.
It also gave employment to 280,722 Filipinos, of which 12,097 are organic employees; 19,874 are kabos (supervisor); and 248,000 are bet collectors.
“At least 106,861 people were new hires, including senior citizens with disabilities and out-of-school youth who want to earn honorably and avoid illegal activity and criminality. Because STL is the only legal numbers game in the country, STL employees are entitled to benefits such as SSS,” Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office General Manager Alexander Ferrer Balutan said.
“For us, the meaning of STL is Serbisyo, Trabaho, Laro (Service, Work, Games),” he added.
According to PCSO Chairman Jose Jorge Elizalde Corpuz, the agency went through challenges to achieve initial successes against jueteng, pares, swertres, masiao, and all the other illegal games prominent in the country.
When STL was launched in 2006, its total earnings was fixed only from P4.7 billion to P5 billion.
“When we arrived in PCSO, there were only 18 operating Authorized Agent Corporations. The Board studied it and we determined why only 18 are operating and we found out that the system is controlled by big gambling lords,” Balutan said.
“Gambling lords penetrated the STL system that’s why it was stuck at 18 AACs. The gambling lords didn’t want STL to prosper because it will terminate their jueteng, swertres, masiao, pares and other facades of illegal numbers game,” he added.
But in February 2017, the agency launched its expanded STL – the 18 AACs became 56, and with even more AACs approved, the number now stands at 92.
There are also still government sectors that protect illegal gambling operators in exchange for bribes.
This prompeted the PCSO to sign a memorandum of agreement with the Philippine National Police to boost its anti-jueteng campaign.
“Because the retired Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Eduardo Año is our mistah, it will be easy for our office to coordinate with their office regarding how to gear the police towards the right strategy against illegal gambling. The deception in the President’s battle against jueteng must stop. Our objective now is to expose the gambling lords’ identities who refuse to be legalized. We will identify them, catch them, and file a case against them in the court,” Balutan said.
Año has recently been appointed by President Duterte as Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), which has supervision on the PNP.
Balutan said the PNP must protect STL operations because these remit a substantial amount of revenues used to finance President Duterte’s priority projects.
“Many people also do not know that some government agencies benefit from the blessings of STL,” he added.