President Rodrigo Duterte lifted the suspension of lotto operations, his spokesperson said Tuesday.
“As per the advice of Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea, the suspension of lotto operations has been ordered lifted by the President,” Presidential Spokesperson Sal Panelo said in a statement.
Panelo said machine-operated lotto games are less prone to corruption compared to other gaming activities licensed or franchised by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
“Maraming taong umaasa sa lotto [Many people depend on lotto],” he said.
The order takes effect immediately, Panelo added.
Meanwhile, the rest of gaming operations with franchises, licenses or permits from the PCSO will remain suspended pending the National Bureau of Investigation’s probe into the corruption controversy hounding the agency, Panelo said. The suspension will stay in effect until the Office of the President evaluates the results of the probe, he added.
Near midnight on Friday, Duterte gave a verbal order for the closure of all gaming activities authorized by the PCSO such as lotto, STL, Keno, and Peryahan ng Bayan, declaring them illegal. Duterte also ordered the military and the police to arrest anyone who will violate his order.
More than 30,000 PCSO gaming outlets nationwide were closed following the order, according to the police.
Senator Sonny Angara, in a statement, thanked the President for lifting the suspension of lotto as it lowered the risk of losing funds for the implementation of the Universal Healthcare Law. Forty percent of the PCSO’s charity fund will partly finance the measure.
“Wala nang panganib na magkaka aberya ang pagsasatupad ng Universal Health Care Act at iba pang mga programa ng gobyerno para sa ating mga kababayan dahil sa kakulangan ng pondo,” Angara said.
[Translation: There’s no danger of a stunted implementation of the Universal health Cre act and other government programs for the people just because we lacked funding.]
Angara added the President’s recent decision will ease the burden of the thousands of employees in lotto gaming outlets who were not able to work during the suspension.