After reading Sen. Ping Lacson’s revelation of the billions of pesos collected by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) that do not go to government coffers and are instead diverted to the pockets of PCSO officials., corrupt politicians, policemen and syndicate operators, I feel my lotto problem is minuscule.
But I still want my P576 back.
I buy my lotto tickets in bulk--six draws--to save time and effort in going to lottery outlets.
Last Friday, I went to an SM lotto outlet to place my bets for six draws of 6/42, 6/45,6/49 and 6/55. I paid P576.
I always dream of hitting the jackpot and I already have a plan how to distribute the “blessings.” Through the years, I have spent thousands of pesos chasing that dream and I’m not giving up despite the fact that the luckiest I got was three numbers. I always console myself with the thought that the money I spend for lotto benefits the sick and the poor. So, I thought.
On Friday evening, the President ordered a stop of all lotto operations due to “massive corruption” in the agency. In a video message posted in the Facebook page of his press office, he said: "I have today ordered the closure, the stoppage of all gaming schemes sa... whatever nature, however done, that got the franchises to do from the PCSO. The ground is massive corruption involving all, pati the courts who repeatedly issued injunctions to paralyze government and to allow corruption to thrive.”
He further said: “Beginning tomorrow at sunrise, everything, all transactions and gaming, wager of bets, becomes illegal." He gave the police 24 hours to carry out his order.
Police Chief Oscar Albayalde and his men didn’t waste time. The next day they closed and padlocked thousands of lotto outlets in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.
Robert Kniazeff Lopez-Pozas commented in Facebook: “The PNP wasted their time looking like fools shutting down Lotto outlets when all they had to do was shut down the central server.”
Yes, come to think of it, all PCSO lottery games were cancelled. PNP did not have to close down and padlock outlets. They could have spent their time and resources for peace and order chores.
But, of course, a photo with Albayalde posting the sign “Closed” in lotto stores makes for impact.
Which led some to question if this sudden order of the President is actually a scheme to divert the public’s attention from the China- in-possession-of-West-Philippine-Sea fiasco in his 4th State of the National Address and his veto of the anti-Endo bill, which is a sharp turnaround from his campaign promise of stopping contractualization.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan commented, “Maganda nga naman pakinggan na pinasara ang PCSO dahil sa corruption. Pero paano na ang bilyon bilyon na pondo (P8 Billion nung 2018) para sa mga kababayan nating may sakit at nangangailangan ng panggastos sa ospital at gamot na taon-taon ay galing sa kita ng PCSO? Paano na rin ang 40 percent ng pondo nito na dapat mapunta sa Philhealth para sa mga medical insurance ng Universal Health Care sa ilalim ng RA 11223? (It’s good that PCSO was closed due to corruption. But how about the billions of funds [P8 billion in 2018] for our countrymen who are sick and need money for medicine and hospital expenses that come from the yearly income of PCSO? How about the 40 percent of its funds that should go to Philhealth for the medical insurance of the Universal Health Care under RA 11223?)
'Di ba mas mainam na sibakin at kasuhan ang mga kurakot sa PCSO habang patuloy na pinapatakbo at kumikita pa rin ito para hindi nalalagay sa peligro ang mga programa na tumutulong sa mga mahihirap nating mga kababayan na nangangailangan ng tulong sa gastos sa gamot at ospital? (Would it not have been better that the corrupt were fired and charged in court while the PCSO continues operation and earn so that its programs that serve the needs of the poor for their medicine and hospital expenses would not be imperiled?)
Writer Joel Pablo Salud asked in Facebook: “Wala ng lotto? Eh paano na yung mga tumaya? Ibabalik nyo ba yung pera nila. Malaki ‘yun ha." (No more lotto? How about those who placed their bets? Are you going to return the money? That’s big money, ha.)
Exactly my thoughts. Paano na lang ang aking P576. Sayang din yun ha.
(Editor's note: Ms. Ellen Tordesillas is a veteran journalist. She is president of VERA Files, verafiles.org, an independent media organization of veteran Filipino journalists who take a deeper look into current Philippine issues. She also writes for malaya.com.ph and other news organizations.)
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.