Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo
MORE than 20,000 gaming outlets licensed by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) have been shut down nationwide on orders of President Rodrigo Duterte.
As of 12 noon Sunday, July 28, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has shut down 5,187 lotto outlets, 13,320 small town lottery, 2,194 peryahan ng bayan and 472 Keno stalls.
PNP spokesperson Brigadier General Barnard Banac said they have yet to determine if all outlets have been closed.
“Wala pang data from PCSO on the actual numbers. We are hoping na all will just voluntarily comply nalang para 100 percent na agad tayo,” he said.
Duterte on Friday evening, July 26, ordered the immediate stoppage of all gaming activities of PCSO over alleged “massive” corruption in the agency.
He said the lotto, small town lottery (STL), Peryahan ng Bayan, and Keno franchises are suspended or terminated pending the investigation in the agency.
PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde has urged all establishments engaged in PCSO gaming activities to voluntarily close and not to wait for the police to visit them.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año expressed support for the President’s directive.
“The closure ordered by the President will prevent the further hemorrhaging of the financial resources of the PCSO, put a stop to the reports of widespread corruption, and commence the needed reform and rehabilitation of the said agency,” he said.
“All Local Government Units are enjoined to comply with this directive, support the PNP in the service of the closure orders, and ensure that all these outlets remain closed until further orders from the Office of the President. Any Local Government Official who prevents or interferes in the closure of any outlet shall be dealt with accordingly to the fullest extent of the law,” he added.
Meanwhile, PCSO board member Sandra Cam urged the public, particularly the agency’s beneficiaries, to trust the wisdom of the President.
Despite the closure, Cam assured the continuation of assistance to its beneficiaries.
“Sa totoo lang, ever since thousands of text messages from this public number that I have, kasi ito ang binibigay kong numero sa mga may sakit at sa mga empleyado, I assure them, I told them na we have to trust the wisdom of the President,” Cam said.
“Huwag tayong mag-alala dahil ang ating Pangulo ay nakahanda lagi sa pagtulong sa ating mga kababayan na nangangailangan ng tulong. And I salute the President in his anti-corruption advocacy this time,” she added. (SunStar Philippines)