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PCSO execs, lottery operators face P50-B plunder raps

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(Photo from Philippine Star)


QUEZON CITY ― The general manager and top officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) are facing plunder and graft charges before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the alleged anomalous operation of the small-town-lottery (STL).


Named respondents in a case filed by the Citizen’s Crime Watch (CCW) were PCSO general manager Jose Ferdinand Rojas II, assistant general manager Remeliza Gatbuyo and board members Francisco Manuel Joaquin III, Mabel Mamba and Betty Nantes.


Also facing plunder charges are 18 small town lottery (STL) operators for alleged failure to declare their actual sales.


The operators facing charges are the Batangas Enhanced Technology, CTG Prime Ventures, Diamond Gaming, First Golden Fortune, GIPC Gaming, Golden Matrix Gaming, Iloilo Small Town Lottery, Lake Tahoe Gaming, Lucky Pick Amusement, Northrails Resources, Ocenania Sur Gaming, Ramloid Gaming, Piroutte Corporation, Randomchoice Gaming, Royal Viva Research, Suncove Corporation, Sunset Marketing Corporation and Super Luck.


“Bukod  sa paggamit ng ilang loterya bilang kublihan ng iligal na jueteng ay dinadaya pa ng mga nagpapatakbo nito ang deklarasyon ng kanilang benta na ikinalugi ng gobyerno ng mahigit P100 bilyon kada taon,” said   Magpantay in his complaint before the Ombudsman.


Magpantay said his complaint was based on a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) report which bared the use of ‘papelitos’ or ‘lastillas’ or small strips of paper, instead of the point-of-sale terminals (POST), a handheld gadget to record bets and transmit the record to the central data center, and ‘kubrador’ of bets which is prohibited under the guidelines in the implementation of the STL.


“Sa kanilang paggamit ng papelitos sa halip na mobile ‘point-of-sale terminals,’ o POST, na siyang itinakda ng PCSO ay sinadyang itago ng mga operator ng loterya ang kanilang totoong benta na tinatayang aabot sa mahigit isangdaan-bilyong piso kada taon,” said Magpantay 


The group said the PCSO executives allowed the STL to continue despite a report of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) showing the government is losing P50 billion from its operation.


The NBI report said the losses were due to under-declaration of income by STL operators.


The CCW said the PCSO officials conspired with STL operators to make the small-town-lottery a front for an illegal numbers game.


CCW chief Diego Magpantay said the conspiracy was prejudicial to the government.


“With the failure of the STL operation to eradicate the illegal numbers game and taking into account the NBI report, the PCSO or the government stands to lose at least P50 billion a year in revenues with the continuous operation of STL,” the complaint read.


Rojas is confident the plunder case against him and other agency officials will be dismissed for lack of merit.


“We at the PCSO board have introduced and put in place since 2010 reforms in the agency. These include different gaming activities like the STL,” he said.


Rojas said the governance commission for government-owned and controlled corporation has been monitoring the performance of the PCSO board.


He said the case was meant to malign the board by people with vested interests.

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