By Jel Santos
Aside from not being able collect the maximum share in the Small Town Lottery (STL), the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) had also allowed the STL to operate without complying with the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) said.
“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,” Anselmo Evangelista Jr., VACC president, said in a three-page letter to PCSO.
“There is a clear bias in favor of STL operators. Take note that the TRAIN Law requires that all lottery tickets must be subject to 20 percent withholding tax on winnings above P10, 000,” he continued.
According to him, STL was “exempted by design or oversight” which led to losses of billions of pesos in revenues.
He described such as a “double whammy” against the interest of the Filipino people.
Because of such, the VACC president urged PCSO General Manager Royina Garma, who just assumed office recently, to probe the irregularities in the agency.
Evangelista said that they support the internal cleansing initiative of Garma, saying they are looking forward to a “more transparent operations” under her leadership.
The VACC also called out the terms of reference of the STL including an “illegally formulated” Presumptive Monthly Retail Receipts (PMRR) which supposedly guaranteed a minimum remittance from the STL operators.
“The terms of reference of the STL includes an illegally formulated PMRR. PMRR is supposed to guarantee a minimum remittance from STL operators. Due to the obvious greed on the part of STL operators (also jueteng operators), even the PMRR has been disregarded,” Evangelista said.
He also reiterated that RA 1169 or the PCSO Charter mandates the agency to give sales commissions to its sales agents, and not receive commissions from lottery operators. “Therefore, RA 1169 does not recognize the legality of the PMRR.”
“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,” he ended.