DOJ sides with online gaming firm, hits PCSO
The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) has failed to secure the indictment of 15 employees of a gaming firm after the Department of Justice (DOJ) shot down the illegal gambling case filed against them by the National Bureau of Investigation.
In a stinging rebuke, the DOJ panel of prosecutors assailed the NBI and PCSO for swooping down on the office of Globaltech Mobile Online Corp. in Quezon City last month despite a court order barring the state gaming regulator from shutting down the company’s “peryahan ng bayan” operations.
Peryahan is a numbers game similar to small town lottery which the PCSO introduced in a bid to stamp out “jueteng.”
According to the DOJ prosecutors, there was no reason to arrest and charge the Globaltech employees with violation of Republic Act No. 9287 since their operations were legal at the time of the raid.
They said official records showed that the Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 161 had issued a status quo ante order which temporarily stayed the PCSO decision revoking Globaltech’s license for its alleged failure to remit about P100 million in government shares from its gaming operations in 2016.
Valid, subsisting authority
“It is without a doubt that at the time of the implementation of the search warrant in the subject premises of Globaltech, its operation of the numbers game… is still duly covered by a valid and subsisting authority/license from PCSO,” the DOJ panel said in its Dec. 3 resolution.
The NBI and PCSO raided the office of Globaltech based on the complaint of Marcelo Flores, vice president of Great Platinum Gaming Online.
The DOJ panel, composed of Assistant State Prosecutors Amanda Garcia and Florencio Dela Cruz Jr., and Associate Prosecution Attorney Criselda Teoxon, said the pieces of evidence presented by NBI and PCSO were “not sufficient to establish a valid warrantless arrest.”
“The NBI operatives’ reliance on the documents submitted by PCSO and a letter from… Flores is misplaced considering that the same are not verified, hearsay, self-serving and full of partiality,” the state prosecutors said.
They also noted that PCSO had even petitioned the Court of Appeals to void the order issued by the Pasig court in favor of Globaltech.
“(This) clearly shows its recognition [of the fact] that the status quo ante order is still in effect and subsisting. And there is no proof that a temporary restraining order or injunctive relief has been issued by the appellate court,” the DOJ panel ruled.
Not illegally engaged
“Consequently, respondents cannot be considered as engaged in an illegal numbers game at the time they were arrested,” the prosecutors added.
In an operation conducted last month, the PCSO and NBI shut down five peryahan ng bayan outlets of Globaltech in Quezon City.
A total of 57 bet collectors from the company were also arrested with PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan saying he would charge them with violating antigambling laws.
Seized from them were four desktop computers, PCSO identification cards, bet slips, documents and several vehicles used for collecting bets.
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