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STL operators hit over non-payment  of collectors’ benefits

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star
STL operators hit over non-payment  of collectorsâ benefits
During the hearing, which Tulfo presided as committee vice chairman, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Chairman Junie Cua failed to provide proof of remittances showing that STL operators contributed to SSS, PhilHealth and Pag-IBIG on behalf of the kabos employed under them.
Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — Small Town Lottery (STL) operators failed to provide their “kabos” or chief collectors with the benefits mandated by law, Sen. Raffy Tulfo said at yesterday’s hearing of the Senate committee on games and amusement.

Tulfo expressed his disappointment upon learning that the kabos are not getting the government-mandated work benefits that should have included SSS, PhilHealth and Pag-IBIG.

“I talked to several poor people from different provinces, and they said they were not receiving any benefits. It hurts my heart, as a pro-worker, that the STL operators, who are making billions of pesos every month, are denying them the benefit that should have been for them,” he pointed out.

During the hearing, which Tulfo presided as committee vice chairman, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Chairman Junie Cua failed to provide proof of remittances showing that STL operators contributed to SSS, PhilHealth and Pag-IBIG on behalf of the kabos employed under them.

The senator also bewailed the “unjust” bidding process for STL operators, which essentially allows losing bidders to join another round of bidding despite an initial loss.

To him, this scheme effectively gives losing bidders the right to match the original proponent chosen when the bidding should already be closed once a winner is declared.

If allowed to continue, it would not guarantee that the government would be entering into the most advantageous STL franchise contract.

Tulfo said the current scheme reeks of corruption because it only favors influential and powerful gambling lords who cornered most franchises to operate STL in different parts of the country.

He added that some unscrupulous PCSO officials are favoring an influential gambling lord, whom he did not identify, to secure wins during STL public biddings in exchange for goodwill money and regular under-the-table pay.

“Instead of going to the pockets of corrupt individuals, the gambling revenues could have been spent for social services that would benefit the poor and other Filipinos needing assistance,” Tulfo said.

He manifested his plans to introduce amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer law by removing STL and other gambling activities from among those subject to unsolicited proposals.

Meanwhile, Tulfo also flagged several problems on the Philippine offshore gaming operators, including the series of crimes linked to POGOs and the anomalous contract with the firm tasked to audit them.

Tulfo maintained that PCSO and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) should take care of their revenues to ensure that the government and the Filipino people are the ones benefitting from these and not the gambling lords alone.

As part of corporate social responsibility, Tulfo said PCSO and PAGCOR should allot some of their revenues in building crisis centers and rehabilitation centers to help people with gambling addiction.

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