By Genalyn Kabiling
Small town lottery (STL) operators can lose their franchise if they violate any condition imposed by the government on the resumption of their operations, according to a Palace official.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the “happy days” of STL operators will be over since the government can revoke their licenses if there will be any violation of the condition contained in the new rules and regulations.
The government earlier announced plans to lift the suspension on STL operations subject to conditions such as payment of a three-month cash bond, payment of arrears, and issuance of a waiver promising not to seek claims or injunction against the government.
The implementing rules and regulations on the STL operations are expected to be issued this week.
“Kung meron silang violation [it] will mean automatic cessation ng kanilang franchise, hindi na sila makaka-operate (If they have a violation, it will mean automatic cessation of their franchise. They can no longer operate,)” Panelo said in a recent radio interview.
“Kapag hindi sila nag-comply wala na, tapos na ang maliligayang araw nila [If they cannot comply, their happy days are over],” he added.
Last Thursday, the President has ordered the lifting of the suspension of the STL operations but imposed conditions on the franchise holders to curb corruption. Duterte’s decision came almost a month after he halted Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) gaming activities, including STL, over alleged massive corruption.
Panelo clarified that the suspension of the STL operations would be lifted by the President immediately after the publication of the implementing rules and regulations.
“There are certain conditions that iyong mga compliant franchise holders will have to fulfill at iyong mga non-compliant din kailangan meron din silang gagawin; may mga kondisyon [There are certain conditions that compliant franchise holders will have to fulfil and the non-compliant ones also need to meet some conditions],” he said.
In the list of government conditions, the STL authorized agent corporations must deposit a cash bond equivalent to three months of the PCSO share in the guaranteed monthly retail receipts on top of the existing cash bonds.
“‘Yung mga non-compliant, kailangan magbayad muna sila ng kanilang mga utang at pag nakabayad na sila ng buo, di mag-deposit ng three months para maka-operate [The non-complaint one must also pay their arrears and then pay the three-month cash deposit to operate],” he said.
He admitted that there were more non-compliant STL operators than the compliant ones.
“Parang alam ko 9 ba o 12, hindi ko na matandaan kung ilang numbers iyong compliant. Basta may mga compliant STL operators. Mas marami ang hindi nagko-comply [I think it’s about nine or 12. I can’t remember the exact number of the compliant ones. There are compliant STL operators. There are more non-compliant ones],” he added.
The STL operators must also write a commitment to comply with the obligations and not institute any claims against the government and or apply a temporary restraining to prevent the government from exercising its prerogatives.
Panelo explained that the President detests any abuse of court injunctions that could only derail government action.
“They will have to agree that they cannot sue, hindi sila magdedemanda kasi ang ginagawa ng mga iba, iyong pitong nagdemanda, hindi na nga nakakabayad, nagdemanda pa, nakakuha ng TRO. Oh di ba, tapos nag-o-operate, hindi sila nagbabayaad [They will have to agree that they cannot sue because others file a case to seek a TRO and operate even if they were not remitting the funds],” he said.
“Oh di ba, tapos nag-o-operate, hindi sila nagbabayad, ayaw ni Presidente iyon. Kumbaga pangugulang ang ginagawa nila [They continue to operate even if they are not paying. The President does not like that. They’re trying to exploit the situation],” he said.