Senator Raffy Tulfo castigated Small Town Lottery (STL) operators for their failure to give “kabos” (chief collector) proper benefits as mandated by law.
Aside from the issue on benefits, Tulfo also slammed the unjust bidding process of STL operators, which essentially allows losing bidders to join another round of bidding despite an initial loss. Tulfo stressed this scheme effectively gives losing bidders the right to match the original proponent chosen and does not guarantee that the most advantageous contract is entered into by STL Franchise Operators.
He decried the current scheme as marred with corruption because it favors only “big-time,” influential, and powerful gambling lord who has cornered most franchises to operate STL in different parts of the country.
Tulfo, during a Committee on Games and Amusement hearing he presided, lamented that kabos are not getting government-mandated work benefits, including SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-Ibig.
“I talked to several kabos from different provinces… They did not receive any benefits,” Tulfo said.
Tulfo said it hurts him that these STL operators, who are making billions of pesos every month, continue to deprive kabos of benefits.
In the same hearing, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Chair Junie Cua failed to provide proof of remittances showing that STL operators contributed to SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-Ibig on behalf of the kabos employed under them.
Some unscrupulous PCSO officials favor an influential gambling lord to secure wins of STL in public biddings in exchange of goodwill money and regular under-the-table pay.
Instead of going to the pockets of corrupt individuals, Tulfo said the gambling revenues could have been spent for social services that would benefit the poor and other Filipinos needing assistance.
Tulfo then manifested plans to legislate amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law removing STL and other gambling activities from being subject to unsolicited proposals which make this current scheme possible.
He stressed that the bidding should be closed once a winning bidder has already been declared.
He likewise flagged several problems on the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), including the series of crimes linked to it and the anomalous contract with the firm tasked to audit it, among others.
He noted that Global ComRCI, the firm contracted by Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to audit POGOs, does not appear competent enough to do the auditing task as the company has limited experience in the gambling industry.
Amid anomalies, he proposed to review the contract of PAGCOR with Global ComRCI, which is receiving roughly P500 million guaranteed pay a year.
Global ComRCI appears to be a consortium between three other companies, one of which is performing large-scale printing and is reportedly owned by a powerful personality who has a connection to PAGCOR.
These companies have little to no social media presence and its website is not accessible to the public.
Tulfo maintained that PCSO and PAGCOR should take care of their revenues to ensure that the government and the Filipino people are the ones benefitting from it and not the gambling lords alone.
“You guys are in the business of legalizing gambling to generate revenues for the state. And in doing so, you are causing the proliferation of a bad habit. Gambling is a vice. And vice is a bad habit. And if it becomes excessive, it turns into an addiction,” he said.
As part of corporate social responsibility, Tulfo said PCSO and PAGCOR should allot some of their revenues in building crisis centers and rehabilitation centers to help people with gambling addiction.