Retired generals used dummies to operate jueteng disguised as STL – Lacson

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson alleged on Thursday, August 1, that retired generals were the ones who pocketed the multi-billion small town lottery (STL) revenues.

During the weekly kapihan with Senate reporters, Lacson said that there were "dummy franchise owners" of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) outlets that were actually owned by retired police and military officers.

Small town lottery is among the games available at PCSO outlets. Lacson said that illegal jueteng (numbers game) masqueraded as legitimate STL operations.

"Other information would reveal na mga retired police and military officers ang nakakakuha ng franchise, nakapangalan lang sa mga dummies pero sila 'yung behind.... Sa halip na magremit ng tama, hindi na nagreremit," Lacson told reporters.

(Other information would reveal that retired police and military officers have been getting franchises which are named under dummies but they are actually the ones behind it. Instead of remitting correct revenues, they don't remit.)

The senator said that gross sales of STL should reach about P73 billion a year or P200 million a day based on a 2017 Senate hearing, and yet mere crumbs were remitted to the agency.

In 2018, PCSO earned P26 billion from STL gross sales, a stark increase from just about P5 billion in previous years.

Lacson said that ex-PCSO general manager Alexander Balutan was able to "pull up" the revenues, but still, billions leaked from collections. Under the recorded gross sales, Lacson claimed that some were still "collectibles," which meant these were not remitted to the agency.

Ironically, Lacson added that jueteng operators who have dummies were the ones who have been remitting money to the PCSO, based on information he gathered. But he later clarified that this still has to be validated.

"Ang katunayan, itong mga nakaraang panahon, ang nakakapagremit na lang 'yung mga jueteng operators na nakakuha ng franchise. Of course, hindi naman lalabas ’yung pangalan nila doon," said Lacson.

(In reality, recently, those who were able to remit were jueteng operators who were able to get franchises. Of course their names won't show.)

Inside job?

Lacson, who aggressively pursued his campaign against jueteng as police chief during the Estrada administration, said that the retired men in uniform, especially the cops, knew how jueteng operations worked. 

"Ito yung pagka-dating police officer na nagretire, alam niya kalakaran ng jueteng. Dapat ginamit nila yung kaalamanan nila sa mabuting paraan para matulungan ang gobyerno o PCSO. Pero hindi," said Lacson.

(The former police officers who retired knew how jueteng works. They should've used their knowledge to help the government or the PCSO, but they do not.)

They connived with those in the PCSO, Lacson claimed, as more retired generals became part of the agency when Balutan, who was a former marine officer, assumed as general manager head of the agency in January 2018.

"May mga identified naman sinu-sino ang mga retired generals, karamihan niyan kasabwat ng mga nakaupo ngayon. Sa loob (PCSO), di ba medyo dumami 'to nung panahon ni GM Balutan? Dumami 'yung mga retired generals doon," Lacson said.

(There are identified retired generals who own the franchises and many of them work in connivance with those who hold power. Inside PCSO, there are more retired generals during the time of GM Balutan? There are more retired generals there.)

A 1983 graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, Balutan was among the retired generals Duterte tapped for civilian government posts.

Gambling tycoon Charlie "Atong" Ang had accused Balutan and former PCSO chairman Jose Jorge Corpuz of underdeclaring revenue generated by STL operations, thus supposedly putting the government at a disadvantage.

Close down STL 'for good'

As Lacson asserted that STL was being used as a front for jueteng, he said that it would be better for it to be declared illegal.

"At least 'pag wala nang STL, 'pag nakakakita ka ng kubrador, pwede nang hulihin dahil iligal. Wala na 'yung masquerade as legal operations na STL. Sa akin mas mainam naman siguro kasi nadadaya ka massively. Harap-harapan niloloko ka," Lacson said.

(At least, if there are no longer STL games, when you see a collector, you already arrest them because it's illegal. They will no longer masquerade as legal operations fronting for STL. For me, it's better because you are being cheatead massively. You are being fooled in front of your face.)

Balutan was sacked in March over allegations of corruption. 

Four months later, the President issued a blanket verbal order on July 27, stopping operations of all PCSO gaming formats, STL included. He reason for the closure was to to curb "massive corruption." (READ: Legal issues with Duterte's PCSO gaming shutdown)

The President later lifted the suspension order on lotto as there are "no anomalies" in its operations. Other, though, games remained suspended. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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