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Will STL finally stop jueteng, other illegal games?

  • Written by Alfred P. Dalizon
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 308

NEW Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chairman, retired PNP General Jorge Corpuz last Wednesday reacted to my exclusive article on the major need for the PCSO to address jueteng and other illegal number games in the country by saying that effective immediately, the state-run Small Town Lottery will be the only legal numbers’ game in the country.

The member of PMA Class 1982 said that the STL will be the tool to be used by the Duterte government to stop illegal number games in the Philippines and added that the market is now open for interested STL operators in all provinces and chartered cities in the country with the PCSO having started processing STL applications starting last October 1. I don’t know why the PCSO failed to make the big announcement on the ongoing STL applications but Corpuz said the processing will last until this coming October 31.
   
Corpuz told me the the STL will be implemented nationwide to raise additional funds for PCSO’s health programs, medical assistance and services, and charities of national character; to provide funds to various local government units for their health programs and medical assistance and services; to provide an alternative to illegal numbers games/operations and to aid their eradication; and to provide additional opportunities for employment.
   
“The STL will be the government’s tool in stopping illegal number games on the ground once and for all,” the retired 2-star general tasked by President Duterte to lead the government crackdown to stop ‘jueteng’ operators who are using the state-sanctioned lottery as a ‘front’ to the consternation of the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies in the past.
   
Corpuz said a massive STL awareness campaign will be an effective tool to educate politicians, local government officials and other law enforcement agencies including the PNP to stop graft and corruption. (Again my question is: why the seemingly ‘secret’ PCSO decision to make STL as the only legal numbers’ game in the country. No major networks in fact have announced this story, I think).
   
“This is one of the programs of President Rodrigo R. Duterte and he mentioned it already on several occasions that next year is ‘war against illegal gambling,” the PCSO chairman told me.
   
Consider this when you calculate how much will concerned government units  earn from STL earnings: the 2016 Expanded STL IRR pertains to ‘Revenue Allocation’ with its Section 29 saying the allocations from the STL Gross Receipts which will go to the following:  Particulars Revenue Allocation:
   
I. Gross Sales/Retail Receipts        100.00%  Printing Cost 2.00%
 
II.   Net Sales  98.00%
   
III.  Prize fund (55% of Net Sales) 53.900%
   
Agency Commission (10% of Gross Sales) 10.00%;  10% Withholding Tax from Agency Commission 1.00%;  Net of Agency Commission 9.00%;   BIR Taxes (5% of PF 2.695%; Net of Prize Fund 41.205%; IV.  Charity fund (30% of Net Sales 29.40%; City / Municipality 3.00%;  Congressional District   0.25%;  Provincial Government 0.75%;  Philippine National Police  2.50%;   National Headquarters  0.40%;   Police Regional Office  0.40%;   Police Provincial Office 0.60%;   Local Police Station  0.60%;   CIDG -National  0.20%;   CIDG - Regional 0.20%;  CIDG - Provincial 0.10%’  Documentary Stamp Tax (10% of Gross Sales) 10.00%; PCSO Charity Fund  12.900%;

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The new STL IRR says that the PCSO shall enter into an agreement with government law enforcement agencies to allow PCSO to maximize revenues in the STL operations and to prevent illegal number games. Corpuz told me that the ‘the PCSO and the PNP are partners and committed to this war.’
   
“Let us make the war exciting on the numbers game STL and not bloodier if those illegal operators will go legal this time and become STL operators,” he told me.
 
With the entry of STL as the only legal numbers’ game in the country, the government thru the PCSO is expected to go allout after ‘jueteng, masiao, bookies operations, game fixing, and other forms of lotteries, including the collection of bets for such illegal/unauthorized operation, and which are not authorized by the PCSO or any other government agencies.’
 
As I have been saying, there have been speculations in the past that the ‘jueteng’ turf war has triggered a number of bloody shooting incidents in many parts of Luzon resulting in the killing of many ‘jueteng’ lieutenants. It is also a known fact that any all-out campaign by the PNP against illegal gambling, even to the point of relieving police chiefs and commanders every week won’t succeed unless the PCSO fully addresses the problem of STL being used as a ‘front’ for jueteng.
   
Many police officials—active and retired—have told me that past governments have tried but failed to eradicate jueteng since its operators are using the PCSO-run games as a cover.  Many told me that there have been an in-depth study on the issue concerning the use of STL as a ‘front’ for ‘jueteng’ particularly in Central Luzon and other parts of Luzon.
 
A retired police general said that during his time, they discussed the existence of   bookies operations and violations of PCSO IRR such as non-usage of prescribed PCSO “papelitos” making it difficult for the accounting of bet collections. The official said that a consensus was reached that by December 15, 2012, all STL Agent Corporations should have strictly adhered to the IRR. However, he said that after the set deadline, they noticed continued infractions of the IRR in Central Luzon prompting them to make more arrests and file charges in court.
   
Unfortunately, the PRO3 operations caught the attention of the PCSO leadership which in a December 26, 2012 memorandum admonished the PNP that anti-illegal gambling laws do not apply to STL employees.  I learned that the PRO3 then was reminded of the Napolcom Resolution 2006-116 which states that “PNP will not arrest anybody engaged in any activity within the scope of the STL project of the PCSO”. The Napolcom resolution states that the PNP can only effect arrest on the following conditions: Upon complaint of PCSO and its agents, Local Executives (LCEs) religious, NGOs, etc. against illegal STL operations.
                                                                               
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Many police generals have told me there were apparent isolated “parallel illegal numbers game” operating similar to ‘jueteng’ using STL as cover wherein some authorized STL bet collectors are engaging in dual collection of bets where one is remitted to the PCSO and the other to the supposed financier of the said illegal numbers’ game. This practice makes it really more difficult for authorities to crack down this illegal activity as evidence by the dismissal of almost all the cases filed against them.
                                                                               
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Past investigations revealed that these financers and unscrupulous STL ‘cobradores’ are engaged in illegal numbers game which is commonly called “bookies” operation. This illegal numbers’ game actually flourished since the odds of winning in bookies is higher because the winning combination is drawn from 1-37 which is identical to jueteng while STL winning combination is drawn from 1-40.
                                                                               
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Likewise, I was informed that bets in bookies operation yield higher winnings as compared to STL. In bookies: a P1 bet wins P900 while in STL, a P1 bet wins P800. Further, a ‘cobrador’ earns a 20-25 percent commission from his total remittances while in STL, a cobrador only earns 10 percent. One friend from the force told me that while the STL achieved its objective of generating funds for the government for health and charity programs and provide additional employment opportunities, it did not totally achieve its purpose. Hope that this time, the government will.
                                                                                              

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