MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Board of Directors will finish and release this week a new set of guidelines for the controversial Small Town Lottery (STL) aimed at strengthening STL against illegal numbers games, particularly "jueteng," PCSO Chairperson Margarita "Margie" P. Juico said on Tuesday.
Juico and PCSO General Manager Jose Ferdinand "Joy" Rojas II were guests at the Bulong-Pulungan media forum moderated by Deedee Sytangco, former spokeswoman of the late President Cory Aquino.
The top two PCSO officials spoke with the Manila Bulletin before the start of the forum at a hotel in Pasay City.
Juico and Rojas said they are still refining and polishing the new set of STL guidelines, adding that it could be completed and released this week.
"Once we are through with it, this will be released and announced. We will invite the members of the media for this," she said.
At the forum proper, organizers and guests took turns shooting questions on the STL and its alleged links with jueteng.
Rojas said the aim of the new set of guidelines is to strengthen STL against jueteng, improve its operation, and make it more productive for the stakeholders.
Rojas said in the three years that STL has been operating in only a few provinces, he considers it “successful" for earning for the PCSO some P10 billion.
This is not yet even operating around the country, the PCSO general manager said.
The new guidelines, he said, will endeavor to put some dignity to STL "cubradores" (bet collectors), giving them Social Security System (SSS) and PhilHealth accreditations.
Whether the PCSO plans to operate STL on a national level, Rojas said this is still being considered by the new Board.
He said the PCSO will open STL applications once the new guidelines are completed.
The Juico-chaired Board has suspended the grant of STL contracts since they assumed office less than eight weeks ago.
"STL is here to fight jueteng," she said.
Juico lauded the "one-strike policy" being undertaken by the new leadership of the Philippine National Police (PNP) under Director General Raul Bacalzo.
She said some STL operators have increased their collections by 50 percent after the police tightened their drive against jueteng collectors
"I hope this will continue," said Juico.
The new STL guidelines will strengthen coordination between the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the PNP and the PCSO, she said.
The PCSO does not support the legalization of jueteng.
"Why legalize jueteng when we already have STL," Rojas said.
Edd Usman, Manila Bulletin