P250 million lost during lotto shutdown: PCSO

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 31 2019 04:41 PM

MANILA -- Lotto operations resumed Wednesday after a 4-day shutdown that cost the government some P250 million in lost revenues, Philippine gaming officials said.

The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) is now working to plug leaks in other gaming operations, including a strict audit of the Small Town Lottery (STL), which is suspected of being used as a legal cover for “jueteng.”

A Commission on Audit report earlier showed a combined shortfall of at least P14 billion from STL operations for 2017 and 2018.

PCSO general manager Royina Garma said Wednesday the agency would be “very, very, very strict” once STL resumed under a revised set of implementing rules.

“We mean business. Wag po nating lagyan ng dumi yung laro (Let’s not defile the game),” she told reporters, referring to STL operators.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier suspended all gaming operations of the PCSO over “massive corruption” in the agency.

STL EARNINGS

Garma sidestepped the issue of corruption during Wednesday’s press conference, saying she was leaving the matter to investigators.

Before issuing the suspension order last Saturday, she had briefed the president on how STL operators were supposedly using court injunctions to delay processes.

“There are contracts also that are being challenged. We cannot do this alone without his help or intervention for now,” said Garma, who admitted learning about Duterte’s suspension order only during Friday’s televised address.

“The President knows better kaya sumunod na lang kami (so we just followed).”

Garma gave her agency 2 weeks to identify improvements in STL operations, including how much was supposed to be remitted to the government.

At present, the remittance, based on a Presumptive Monthly Retail Receipt, is determined by the PCSO board using factors such as an STL operator’s location and its population, and “national and local economic growth targets.”

“Is the amount correct? Was there a study made?” said Garma, who floated the idea of conducting the present provincial STL draws at the regional level for greater transparency.