The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) assailed the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) for failing to collect the maximum share in favor of the government in the small town lottery (STL), and allowed the STL to operate without complying with the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.
This was bared by Anselmo Evangelista, Jr., VACC president, in a letter to PCSO general manager Royina Garma, as he expressed the VACC’s support of the “internal cleansing”program that the newly-assumed PCSO top executive has earlier vowed to undertake in the state charity agency.
Evangelista urged Garma to look into the serious irregularities that hve attended the PCSO’s STL program, where STL operators have been allowed to defraud the government of tens of billions of revenues that could have gone to support the agency’s charity programs.
Evangelista lamented that under the present setup, there is a “clear bias” in favor of the STL operators.
He pointed out that while lotto was compliant with the TRAIN law, STL was “exempted by design or oversight,” resulting in losses of billions of pesos in revenues for the government.
“This is a double whammy against the interest of the Filipino people,” the VACC leader stressed.
“While reporting only a small portion of actual STL sales (the bigger portion goes to jueteng), even that is illegally exempted from the TRAIN law,” Evangelista said in his three-page letter dated last August 7.
Evangelista told the PCSO that such malfeasance “is not an innocent blunder.”“It is a clear case of plunder. This must be investigated and the culprits made accountable.”
He also deplored that the terms of reference of the STL included an “illegally formulated” Presumptive Monthly Retail Receipts (PMRR) which supposedly guaranteed a minimum remittance from the STL operators.
But due to the greed of the STL operators who also operated the jueteng, the PMRR has been disregarded.
“It is an open secret that the STL (small town lottery) is being used as a front for jueteng,” Evangelista said.
He also cited Republic Act 1169 also called the PCSO Charter which authorized the agency to raise charity funds to be apportioned as follows: 55 percent for prizes, 30 percent for charity, and the remaining 15 percent as contribution to the operating expenses and capital expenditures of the agency.
“RA 1169 mandates that PCSO must give sales commissions to its sales agents, and not receive commissions from lottery operators,” the VACC leader emphasized in his letter.
“Therefore, RA 1169 does not recognize the legality of the PMRR,” it added.
Evangelista also urged the PCSO to take a second look at Keno and other games which were losing with a view to improving them or scrapping them altogether.
Adverting to President Duterte’s all-out war against corruption, Evangelista said the STL had been “one of the biggest corruption scandals in the country.”
“Arguably, this cannot happen without the tolerance or active participation of embedded corrupt officials at the PCSO. Most likely, these are the same officials who are obstructing the internal cleansing that you wish to implement,” Evangelista said.
“We hope that the President will identify and fire them at the soonest time possible,” he added.
In the same letter, Evangelista hailed newly appointed PCSO chair Royina Garma for her projected “internal cleansing” of the agency.
“VACC is heartened by your statement that you will implement “internal cleansing” of the PCSO. With you at the helm of the PCSO, we look forward to more viable and transparent operations of this important agency tasked to deliver social services to poor Filipinos,” the VACC leader said.