4Ps beneficiaries gamble money

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DAVAO CITY -- Officials of Davao Oriental have asked the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to regulate the operation and presence of Small Town Lottery (STL) there.

Gov. Nelson Dayanghirang and the province’s 11 mayors told PCSO officials during a recent meeting that STL outlets had mushroomed in the province and had been indiscriminately placed near schools, churches and along the highway. 


Wrong priorities

The proliferation of STL outlets, they said, “encouraged the culture of gambling among residents while adversely affecting the province’s image.”

It was not clear how many STL booths had been put up in the entire province since the PCSO allowed STL operations there in October.

But people were now placing more bets than they did on illegal gambling, Dayanghirang said.

“Instead of buying food for their families, people are being tempted to place bets for the game,” he said. 


Poorest of the poor

This was apparently the effect of too frequent daily draws for the STL, Dayanghirang said.

He said draws were being held six times a day and these “drastically affect the spending behaviors of the locals who are mostly 4Ps beneficiaries.”

The government is currently implementing a program called 4Ps - Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program - which distributes cash to the poorest of the poor on condition they send children to school and pregnant women to regular checkups.

The STL operation, according to Dayanghirang, “makes matters worse” instead of combating gambling.

“We have been trying hard in our antipoverty efforts and yet we are allowing an operation that further pushes our constituents to poverty,” he added.


PCSO action

Virgilio Enrique Abanilla, the PCSO branch head, during the meeting with Dayanghirang and the mayors vowed to look into the concern of local officials, according to the Davao Oriental information office.

In a press release, the provincial information office said Abanilla had “assured the local chief executives that the PCSO will make the necessary adjustments in the operation” of the STL and to move the STL booths to less conspicuous areas.

Dayanghirang said he recognized the PCSO’s assistance to indigent patients in the province but said the operation of STL had led to concerns that it was abating, instead of helping combat, poverty.

During the meeting with Abanilla, the local chief executives also quoted reports from village officials that there had been an increase in cases of theft and petty crimes. - FRINSTON LIM/


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