PCSO: Only Duterte can stop Small Town Lot­tery

Manila Times - - NEWS - FRAN­CIS EARL A. CUETO

DE­SPITE threats of be­ing charged be­fore the Of­fice of the Om­buds­man, Philip­pine Char­ity Sweep­stakes Of­fice ( PCSO) Gen­eral Man­ager Alexan­der Ba­lu­tan re­mained adamant over the is­sue of the Small Town Lot­tery ( STL), say­ing they will con­tinue with its op­er­a­tion de­spite al­le­ga­tions by House Speaker Pan­ta­leon Al­varez that the num­bers game is il­le­gal.

Ba­lu­tan said that con­trary to claims made by Al­varez that STL op­er­a­tions are be­ing used as a front for the il­le­gal num­bers game, halt­ing STL op­er­a­tions will jueteng op­er­a­tors.

“Stop­ping STL only fa­vors gam­bling lords and their ilk,” he noted on Wed­nes­day.

“We re­spect the opin­ion of House Speaker Al­varez, but we re­quest that he re­con­sider whose side he’s on: the Filipino peo­ple who will ben­e­fit from the gov­ern­ment’s in­crease in char­ity ser­vices and the op­por­tu­nity to pro­vide em­ploy­ment, or the il­le­gal gam­bling op­er­a­tors and those who cod­dle them,” Ba­lu­tan said.

Al­varez warned that he will be them be­fore the Of­fice of the Om­buds­man, if the STL op­er­a­tions will not be stopped.

He said STL op­er­a­tions are not na­tional in scale.

But Ba­lu­tan said while they re­spect the opin­ion of the House Speaker, he as­sured that the PCSO, which is work­ing un­der the Of­fice of the Presi- dent, is fol­low­ing the re­quest of Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte to end il­le­gal gam­bling op­er­a­tions in all its forms.

He clar­i­fied that the PCSO takes guid­ance and di­rec­tion from the Pres­i­dent who has been clear from the very be­gin­ning of his in­ten­tion to elim­i­nate il­le­gal gam­bling op­er­a­tions and curb cor­rup­tion.

Ba­lu­tan ex­plained that the PCSO’s en­abling law (Repub­lic Act 1169, as amended) will pre­vail in so far as state-run lot­ter­ies are con­cerned.

This law is among those which Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der (EO) 13 aims to im­ple­ment and pro­tect.

EO 13 is an ex­ec­u­tive is­suance to honor PCSO’s char­ter man­date.

PCSO Chair­man Jorge Cor­puz ear­lier said halt­ing STL will re­sult in loss of rev­enue for the agency

He added that through the ex­panded STL, the PCSO has been able to col­lect in the last quar­ter of 2016, P6.46 bil­lion, a far cry for the whole of 2015.

The gov­ern­ment is poised to lose al­most P28 bil­lion in rev­enue if STL op­er­a­tions come to a halt.

This loss trans­lates to bil­lions of funds for the gov­ern­ment’s char­ity ser­vices and free medicines for the poor.

“I told him [Al­varez] to help us since this might boomerang be­cause thou­sands will be ad­versely af­fected, par­tic­u­larly the poor, whose wel­fare the gov­ern­ment seeks to up­lift and ad­dress,” Ba­lu­tan said.

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