BY JOHNNY DAYANG
The government-operated Small Town Lottery (STL) or Lotto, under the supervision of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), has already taken on an institutionalized derogatory name – LOTTENG. The name naughtily combines the words LOTTO and JUETENG, the illegal numbers game that has remained rampant around the country despite its having been outlawed and banned.
STL was precisely conceived to provide a legalized alternative to jueteng, in respect to the established mindset and predilection for gambling of many Pinoys, but intended to eventually put the illegal numbers game to an end.
As it turned out, however, the innate Filipino manipulative creativity managed to cloak jueteng with the STL’s legal aura. Thus today, jueteng continues to flourish with impunity nationwide right under the very noses of government authorities tasked to snuff it out of existence.
Many discerning Filipinos thus now ask: Is the government seriously bent on fighting illegal gambling? Among those who are more vocal in raising this question are the more than 150 entrepreneurs who have invested their time and money in preparing for the PCSO sponsored Pambansang Loteryang Bayan (PLB), earlier conceived and flaunted in the early years of the incumbent administration as the perfect formula to put an end to the illegal jueteng.
These serious entrepreneurs have in fact applied with the PCSO and paid for their PBL franchises but were reportedly advised in a hush recently to convert their applications from PLB to STL which will shortly be “relaunched.”
It must be noted that STL was given a closure ultimatum by the PCSO at the start of PNoy’s administration but its deadline has repeatedly been postponed, while jueteng lords merrily use the STL as their front. This has prompted many of the prospective PBL entrepreneurs to complain that they are just being given the run around.
Less than two years to the end of the Aquino regime, several other question are being raised. If the PBL will indeed be eventually shelved, what reasons are there for such decision? What now happens to the prospective entrepreneurs’ PBL franchise applications accepted by PCSO?
Where did their franchise fees go? Aside from the jueteng lords, who really benefits from the questionable STL system? Does not this anomalous and highly dubious state of affairs prostitute President Aquino’s “Tuwid na Daan” advocacy and battle cry?