Philippines admits small-town-lottery a failure

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Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - The small-town lottery (STL) has failed to displace the illegal numbers game "jueteng" so it will be replaced, Philippine Palace Malacanang said yesterday.

"It was implemented with the purpose of combating jueteng. Apparently, it is not doing its job of combating jueteng. That's why we need to find a replacement or alternative to STL," presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a briefing for reporters in Malacanang.

The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) have been studying the replacement of the STL, Lacierda said, but cited no specifics.

"We're looking at it right now. I will not be able to provide the details yet but it's in the works. We will wait until it's been finalised. We will announce it," Lacierda said.

Over the years the STL has been seen as a front for jueteng, which the government has refused to legalise despite its popularity.

"We are mounting a campaign against jueteng... Jueteng is an illegal numbers game... The position of how we describe it is that we want an integrated campaign against jueteng," Lacierda said.

Following his appointment as new interior secretary on Aug. 31, Manuel Roxas II said President Aquino's marching orders were to eradicate all illegal forms of gambling.

Lacierda took exception to statements that the Aquino administration has so far failed to make a dent on jueteng, which continues to thrive not only in the countryside but also in the capital.

"In certain areas, jueteng has been expunged. I don't know the specific areas but we were informed that there were certain areas that jueteng has already been expunged," he said.

Lacierda said charges had been filed against certain entities for engaging in the illegal numbers game.

The government has adopted an "integrated approach" to jueteng, and it will fight the game on many fronts, Lacierda said. And part of this integrated approach is replacing the STL.

"It's not accurate to say that we were not doing anything on jueteng," he said. "We have noticed that jueteng cannot be fought based on initiatives of certain individuals. It has to be an integrated campaign."

He said Malacanang was leaving to the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Director General Nicanor Bartolome, the disclosure of the identities of government officials receiving jueteng payoffs.

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