By Robert B. Roque, Jr.
The controversy surrounding the operation of the Small Town Lottery (STL) never seems to end. So unluckily for the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), its reputation always takes a hit.
From the involvement of politicians and illegal gambling syndicates in the game to cheating the government of remittances, down to supposed corruption and irregularities in the issuance and transfer of permits, STL has caused the PCSO such a big headache.
In 2019, then-president Duterte suspended all STL operations and ordered an investigation into these irregularities. This led to new rules and regulations implemented by the PCSO when STL operations resumed in 2020.
But all these new checks and balances gave rise to new ways of corrupting the system. Towards the tail-end of the Duterte administration, STL permits were granted through midnight deals orchestrated by a former PCSO official in cahoots with an alias “Prosi.”
Last February 13, the Senate hearing on PCSO revenues peeled at this hidden scheme. Senator Raffy Tulfo was keen on pointing out that these dubiously approved STL contracts or midnight deals are now on the selling block, citing one such case in Quezon City.
Spies of mine in Quezon City Hall confirm that a firm called “Lucent” has informed the Mayor’s Office that its original owner had already sold his shares to a certain “ALF” to operate its STL franchise for P50 million. Lucent’s new owner is now seeking continued STL operations in the city on the pretext that the PCSO had approved the transfer of ownership of the franchise.
This is precisely what Sen. Tulfo is so riled up about. If these STL franchises resulted from midnight deals or dubious contracts in the past administration, then why is this government allowing their resale and continued operations? It only suggests that the government has become complicit in the crime.
If not, why is reselling such STL franchises going on? My spies say dubious contracts were awarded to “players” in Pangasinan, Cagayan, Mindoro, Cebu, and about 30 other areas.
Firing Line supports the Senate in continuing its probe to unmask these “players” and their partners in crime in the government, charge them in court, and let them caress the cold steel bars of a jail cell.
Dredging, quarrying in Cavite
Alarm bells have been raised by Advocates of Science and Technology for the People over dredging, seabed quarrying, and reclamation activities being conducted in Cavite.
In particular, fisherfolk’s coastal ecosystem and livelihood have already been adversely affected by these activities off the towns of Ternate, Naic, and Rosario.
AGHAM marine biologist Jerwin Baure said these destructive activities are already driving away fishes in the area due to associated pollution and noise in the bay. Yet, there is still no response from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
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