Fact check: Did Duterte give Atong Ang a PCSO post?

Fact check: Did Duterte give Atong Ang a PCSO post?
The Palace said in January 2018 that President Duterte asking Ang for help in cleaning up the PCSO does not mean the gaming consultant was given a government post.
The STAR / Geremy Pintolo, File photo

MANILA, Philippines — An old story on gaming consultant Charlie "Atong" Ang has resurfaced amid talk of President Rodrigo Duterte's order to shut down gaming operations either run or licensed by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office over allegations of corruption.

In January 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte admitted he had called Ang to ask him to "stop everything illegal (at the PCSO) and help the government."

He said he had called Ang, which according to him is the "number one gambler in Davao," because he is "involved in everything."

Duterte was quick to parry criticisms on his dealings with Ang, who was notorious in the past for his gambling operations, including the Bingo 2-ball, which turf war between Ang and then Ilocos Gov. Chavit Singson led to the jueteng payola controversy that caused the downfall of the Estrada administration.

"That was the only reason why I called for Atong Ang. Tell him. Many years ago. I do not want to mention the president. He wanted to set up jai alai in Davao," he said.

Ang: Duterte called me in 2016

The president made the disclosure on the same day that Ang, speaking at a Senate hearing on issues surrounding the PCSO, told senators that Christopher "Bong" Go, then special assistant to Duterte, had called him up in 2016 to tell him to go to Davao and "greet the president."

Ang said he was in Manila when Go called, but that he later met Duterte and told the president about alleged irregularities at the PCSO.

He also told senators that PCSO Director Sandra Cam called him in September of that year to tell him that the president wanted him to meet with PCSO Chair Jose Jorge Corpuz and general manager Alexander Balutan to help the agency raise the sweepstakes office's revenues.

Ang also recounted to senators that Corpuz had said he would "remove" the gaming consultant from the PCSO. "Eh wala naman akong business sa PCSO maski na ano (But I don't have any business with PCSO," he said.

RELATED: Atong Ang: I have no business with PCSO

Palace in 2018: Ang asked to help, but not given PCSO post

Although Duterte's disclosure bolsters Ang's claims that the president had asked him for help, that does not mean he was actually given a government post.

In a press briefing on Jan. 28, 2018, a few days after Duterte's disclosure, then presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said:

"Uulitin ko po, talagang hiningan niya ng tulong si Atong Ang – hindi naman niya tinalaga sa PCSO si Atong Ang. So ang tinalaga niya si General Balutan, at ngayon iyong bagong Chairman po – Chairman Pinili." 

(I will repeat, the president really asked Atong Ang for help—he did not appoint Atng Ang to the PCSO. So, the president appointed General Balutan, and the new chairman—Chairman [Anselmo] Pinili.)

Asked on Tuesday whether Ang is "involved in PCSO affairs," Roque's replacement, Salvador Panelo, declined to comment.

"I said these people involved will be named by the president in due time. Do not be impatient," he said.

Ang's name does not appear in a list of officials on the PCSO's website nor has he been included in the presidential appointments that the Palace announces every now and then.

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