STL in Cebu City still not operating

ALMOST three months after President Rodrigo Duterte lifted the suspension order on the operations of the small town lottery (STL) in the country, one of four STL authorized agent corporations (AAC) in Cebu is still not open for business.

The Cebu City-based STL AAC has yet to settle its guaranteed monthly minimum retail receipt deficit amounting to around P200 million, as of July 2019. It has also not been able to remit to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) the guaranteed tickets per month amounting to P46.7 million.

The four AACs in Cebu are scattered in Mandaue City (200 outlets), Lapu-Lapu City (200 outlets), City of Naga (2,500 outlets) and Cebu City (2,000 outlets).

As of Tuesday, Nov. 5, Glen Jesus Rada, PCSO Cebu branch head, said their office had yet to receive any document or notice from their head office regarding the Cebu City-based STL AAC.

“The transactions, in terms of complying with the requirements, take place in the head office. We are only given instructions by PCSO to implement the notice that they should resume, but until now, there is no document,” he said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

In a text message to SunStar Cebu, PCSO General Manager Royina Garma confirmed that the Cebu City-based STL AAC has yet to settle its monthly retail receipts.

“Wala, kasi hindi nagbayad ng utang (It cannot operate because it has yet to pay its debt to PCSO),” said Garma.

The Cebu City-based STL AAC, for its part, has blamed the shortfall on the presence of illegal gambling outlets in its area.

AACs are required to “remit to PCSO the total sales collection less Agency Commission from the Prize Fund and Sales Supervisors/Representatives share from the Operating Fund” weekly, according to the 2016 rules for STL operations.

“In no case shall the total monthly sales collection be lower than the approved PMRR (Presumptive Monthly Retail Receipts) in the area,” it says.

PMRR is the amount determined by PCSO as the presumed minimum monthly sales of an AAC.

Rada pointed out that the STL in Cebu Province, which is based in the City of Naga, resumed operations last Sept. 14 after complying with the requirements.

“No AACs will be given the authority to resume operations unless all requirements are settled. Lapu-Lapu City and Mandaue City also resumed operations on Sept. 1,” Rada said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

Last July 26, Duterte ordered the suspension of all PCSO-licensed games over “massive” corruption in the state agency. A month after, he ordered the resumption of STL operations on certain conditions:

1. The STL operator must deposit with the PCSO a cash bond equivalent to three months of the PCSO’s share in the guaranteed monthly retail receipts. This is on top of its existing cash bond.

2. The AAC’s cash bond equivalent to three months of the PCSO’s share in the guaranteed monthly receipts will be “automatically forfeited” in favor of PCSO if it cannot remit its sales in full and on time.

3. The AAC complies with its obligations under the STL agency agreement and will not institute any claims, monetary or otherwise, against the government. It will not seek a temporary restraining order or injunction from any court.

4. The STL agency agreement will be automatically terminated when any of the conditions is violated.

Under the previous PCSO implementing rules and regulations (IRR), local government units received three percent of the gross sales of STL in the locality; Philippine National Police, 2.5 percent; the congressional district, 0.75 percent; and the provincial government, one percent.

But Gloria Ybañez, PCSO Visayas manager, said they have yet to get a copy of the new PCSO IRR.

“Management is finalizing the IRRs. Initially, the IRRs were supposed to be finished earlier, but the board of directors still have to fix several things,” she said in a mix of Tagalog and English.

The PCSO is a government-owned and -controlled corporation under the Office of the President. It is mandated to raise and provide funds for health programs, including medical assistance and services. It raises money through lottery, among other things. (WBS with reports from AYB of SuperBalita Cebu)