MANILA (Mabuhay) – House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez on Tuesday proposed the expansion of small town lottery (STL) operations to cover the entire country, saying the move will generate employment for 1.5 million individuals.
During a briefing of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) before the House committee on appropriations, General Manager Jose Ferdinand Rojas II said the STL is only operating in 14 out of 81 provinces, and four out of 144 cities.
Rojas also reported that gross sales from STL in the first quarter of 2016 was at P1.231 billion. Gross sales for 2015 was at P4.794 billion, and for 2014, P4.7 billion.
He said some 180,000 uniformed employees are hired as “sales representatives” or “kubrador” (bet collectors).
“We estimated that if this (STL) will be deployed nationwide, you can generate 1.5 million employees. I am talking about 1.5 million marginal employed people who will never pass a job fair,” Suarez said.
Suarez said providing jobs to such individuals would keep them off the streets.
“Itong mga taong ito na pa-casual casual, kung anu-ano ginagawa. After three days, walang trabaho, pusher na ito, holdaper na ito kasi walang pagkakakitaan. But here, we have an opportunity,” he said.
Suarez tasked Rojas to come up with a “statistical analysis” of expanding the STL operations nationwide.
Rojas said the PCSO has been planning to go to an expansion but “certain things in the office” have prevented them from doing so.
For his part, Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin, Jr. said the PCSO should consider abolishing STL because it is allegedly being used as a front for the illegal numbers game jueteng.
Garbin said President Rodrigo Duterte himself had questioned STL operations.
“Ang tinutumbok niya [ay] yung STL, sinalaula daw. Ilang taon na nago-operate ‘yung STL eh dapat mas malaki na yung kita natin,” Garbin said.
Rojas said it was up the Office of the President (OP) whether or not the PCSO would continue or abolish its STL operations.
“It will really be up the OP’s directive and the PCSO will just abide by it,” Rojas said.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella earlier said that Duterte was also keen in going after gambling lords.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II he was mandated by Duterte to conduct an investigation on illegal gambling activities and to review the status of STL operations.
Duterte, who took his oath of office as the 16th President of the Philippines, has vowed to stop the proliferation of online gambling.
“’Yung online gambling must stop,” Duterte told his appointed officials during his administration’s first Cabinet meeting in July.
He would suggest that the state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) to cancel the licenses of online gambling operators. (MNS)