Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) General Manager Alexander Balutan announced on Tuesday that the February sales of Small Town Lottery (STL) hit P1,946,395,655, which is 4.13-percent increase from its P1,869,263,505.42 sales last month.
“We would like to attribute the increase in our STL revenues to the number of operating AACs and their PMRR [Presumptive Monthly Retail Receipt], and of course to the betting public who continues to support our lottery and number games,” said Balutan.
STL is a regular game by PCSO authorized by the national government through Section 1 of Republic Act 1169.
AACs are corporations or cooperatives duly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), respectively that applied, been duly qualified and expressly authorized by the PCSO to conduct STL in a particular area.
Since the launch of STL in 2006, the earnings were fixed only from P4.7 billion to P5 billion. That time, there were only 18 operating AACs.
Then PCSO Board studied why it was stuck to 18 AACs and found out that the system is controlled by big gambling lords.
“Ayaw nilang i-expand, dagdagan, o palawakin ang STL sa mga probinsya kung saan malakas ang jueteng at iba dahil talagang matatalo ang mga gambling lord na ito. Wala silang mapagkukunan ng pampayola nila sa mga inaalagaan nilang korap na opisyal para tuloy ang kanilang ilegal na gawain,” said Balutan.
In February 2017, PCSO launched its expanded STL. From 18 AACs, the Board approved 56 until the addition of even more AACs, hence it became 92. At present, there are 83 operating AACs.
In May that same year, STL gained an average earning of more than P1 billion.
Year 2017 ended with STL making a history due to its record-breaking earnings at P15,750.895,045 with a 183.63 percent increase from the P6,462,304,820 in 2016. It opened 280,722 jobs as against P173,861 jobs in 2016.
However, in November 2017, a notorious gambling lord in the country was quick to protest and said that the earnings should have been P5 billion to P6 billion.
“This gambling lord pockets P2.37 billion a month from jueteng and pares. With the expansion of STL operations, his area narrowed and his operations is slowly perishing,” said Balutan.
Sources were quick to speculate that the series of attacks made against the agency starting from PCSO Director Sandra Cam accusing the agency of having an extravagant Christmas party to AACs that should be terminated for not remitting correct PMRRs, had something to do with him losing his earnings in areas where STL are now operating legally.
In the past, there were police intelligence officials who said “whenever jueteng is raised and media sensationalizes, with the help of congressional investigations, this notorious gambling lord comes in with his candy-coated STL proposal.”
This gambling lord is reportedly “orchestrating the sudden noise on jueteng” and funding media campaigns to discredit government officials allegedly receiving payola from the racket.
The report also said that “this police official said that this gambling lord reportedly collects P2 million daily, but only half a million goes to PCSO.”
He used this same skimming-off-the-top method in other provinces, but cannot penetrate Pampanga and Bulacan, and Ilocos Sur, because they were strongly resisted by Bong Pineda and the Singsons, respectively.
Amidst all the attempts to destroy the agency, particularly the STL and his reputation as former marine general, Balutan assured the people who look up to PCSO for deliverance and the betting public as well that he will not allow it – not during his term.
“I shall not fail the President and the countless indigent patients who look up to PCSO for deliverance. I shall guard the PCSO with my life if necessary, against those who might want to destroy it so that they can take over our gaming operations at the expense of the PCSO and the people. I will not allow it. Not while I’m around,” he said.
The PCSO Charter, or RA 1169, particularly on revenue allocation, provides that the revenue of the PCSO shall be allocated to 55 percent for prize fund (payment of prizes), 30 percent for charity fund (various charity programs and service) and 15 percent as operating fund (maintenance and operating expenses).