By Manuel T. Ugalde
LEGAZPI CITY --- Finally, the controversial state-sponsored Small Town Lottery will re-surface in the six provinces of Bicol, according to an official of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
Initially to be launched before the end of March this year are the STL operations in Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte, to be followed after a week by Albay, according to Albay PCSO manager Nelly B. Loyola.
Loyola clarified that despite the controversies that attended the lottery operation, the STL franchise in Sorsogon has never been ordered suspended nor was it stopped. She, however, refused to elaborate.
Loyola said it is definite the revitalized STL will also be launched in the island provinces of Catanduanes and Masbate.
She added that a PCSO branch will also open in Catanduanes to serve the province’s charity-dependent residents needing
medical assistance from PCSO whose requests and claims are still being handled by the Albay PCSO branch.
Loyola refused to identify the name of the STL operator for Albay other than saying it’s from Tagalog region also known as a gambling lord. The PCSO top leadership was quoted as saying that known gambling lords were given the priority to apply for the STL franchise because they have the experience in the number games operation.
The re-launching of the much cfriticized STL operation under the Duterte administration has been received with much reservation by the church and private anti-illegal gambling groups. The feared the proliferation of bookies and the “legitimization” of jueteng, the illegal numbers game that may thrive behind the guise of STL operation.
The government claims that the revitalized STL operation will kill other illegal numbers game one of the three campaign priorities of the Duterte administration in addition to drugs and corruption. Jueteng operations remain unperturbed in the whole of Albay province, it was reported.
According to Loyola, operators under the new STL setup is under contract with PCSO for a minimum ceiling to be remitted daily direct to the PCSO that in turn will remit to the local government units their due share from the state-sponsored numbers game.
In the past, STL operators remit directly to the LGU its own share from the STL operation.
The PCSO official disclosed that bet collectors will wear their uniforms and will have their identification cards and that every be will be issued corresponding receipt. Without the uniform and IDs, they will be arrested by the police, she assured.
Loyola disclosed that each province will only have one STL franchise where the police will have their share from revenues generated while hey strictly monitor STL operations in their respective areas.