MANILA - The Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) has advised the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to follow the ruling of the Court of Appeals on the Peryahan ng Bayan case.
The January 14 CA ruling dismissed petitions of both the PCSO and Globaltech, which reportedly operated the "peryahan" in various parts of the country.
But the same ruling upheld a status quo ante order (SQAO) issued by a regional trial court on May 17, 2016 which required PCSO to continue sending a PCSO representative daily to Globaltech’s draw centers.
The PCSO had declared peryahan games illegal after it terminated Globaltech’s deed of authority in March 2016. PCSO accused Globaltech of not remitting earnings pegged at about P100 million.
In his February 4 letter to PCSO, Assistant Government Corporate Counsel Officer-in-Charge Efren Gonzales explained that PCSO must follow the CA’s ruling even if it contested the legality of peryahan operations.
“[A]t this point, PCSO has to send its representative to the draw centers of Globaltech for the conduct of the Peryahan Games. It bears stressing that the act of sending a PCSO representative is merely in compliance with the CA’s ruling on the validity of the SQAO but not in anyway, renouncing our position on the expiration of the Deed of Authority,” he said.
“The issue on the expired DOA shall be the subject of our Motion for Reconsideration and/or Arbitration. PCSO, for the meantime, has to immediately comply with the CA’s directive, otherwise, the Board of Directors (BOD) is vulnerable to indirect contempt,” he added.
Gonzales also advised PCSO that it must suspend effecting arrests, search and seizure, through the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police, on operators of peryahan. PCSO considered peryahan as a form of illegal gambling.
However, Gonzales clarified that PCSO can still effect arrests if Globaltech, in the guise of conducting peryahan games, was in fact operating small town lottery (STL) games.
“It would be best then to coordinate with the authorized STL Agents and for NBI to make the necessary surveillance and corresponding application of search warrants, if necessary, before the regular courts, if indeed, Globaltech is operating outside of its authority,” he said.
At the time of writing the letter, the OGCC was contemplating on two options: file a motion for reconsideration on the CA ruling or proceed to arbitration.
The OGCC legal opinion was addressed to PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan.