Duterte orders closure of PCSO lotteries, games
Ian Nicolas Cigaral (Philstar.com) - July 27, 2019 - 11:56am

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday ordered the closure of all gaming activities operated by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office due to “massive corruption.”

In a videotaped message, Duterte said “all gaming schemes” run by the PCSO should cease operations pending an investigation.

He then ordered the police and military to remove all PCSO lotteries and games from public spaces within 24 hours.

“The ground is massive corruption involving all — including the courts who issued the — repeatedly issued injunctions to paralyze government and to allow corruption to thrive,” the president said. He did not elaborate.

The PCSO is the principal agency for raising funds for health programs, including the Universal Healthcare Law that Duterte signed last February.

Under the law, 40% of the charity fund and mandatory contributions of PCSO will partly finance the expansion of universal healthcare in Philippines, which aims to ensure that all Filipinos, regardless of income and financial status, have access to medical treatment.

In 2018, PCSO generated a total of P63.5 billion revenue, up 20% from P52.9 billion in 2017. Bulk of the earnings came from its most patronized games — the Lotto and the Digit games — which gained 14 percent to P31.9 billion.

In a statement released Saturday, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte issued the directive after he discovered a “grand conspiracy” to “cheat the government of its rightful shares.”

“The president is outraged by the discovery of the plunderous machinations of these scoundrels whose insatiable greed is infinite and beyond redemption,” Panelo said.

“The chief executive will identify the culprits in due time and the full force of the law will come crushing down on them. This hydra-headed corruption will be cut off until it reproduces no more,” he added.

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