PCSO scolded for not asking Marcos’ nod in e-lotto implementation

Senators scold PCSO for not asking Marcos’ nod in e-lotto implementation

/ 10:21 PM January 25, 2024

Senators scold PCSO for not asking Marcos’ nod in e-lotto implementation


MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) was scolded again by senators for not asking permission from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration regarding the operation of online lotto games, as the office relied instead on a memorandum coming from the past administration.

At the hearing of the Senate committee on ways and means and the committee on games and amusement on Thursday, Senator Raffy Tulfo asked Assistant Government Corporate Counsel Kathrina Reyes if the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) believes PCSO erred in not informing the Office of the President (OP) before proceeding with the e-lotto platform.


READ: Lawmaker hits, questions PCSO’s online lotto deal

In response, Reyes said that she personally believes there is nothing that prevents PCSO from just getting a post-facto approval, but she also admitted that the memo they are holding was from June 2021 — or during the time of former president Rodrigo Duterte and his executive secretary, Salvador Medialdea.


This prompted Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel to ask why it seems PCSO does not respect its appointing officers — particularly the President himself — by keeping them out of the loop.

“Bakit naman ‘yong bagong PCSO, why did you rely on this 2021 memorandum? Attorney, eh may abugado kayo oh, tignan mo na lang ‘yong first paragraph oh, it’s about the guidelines daw, the technical guidelines ninyo with the consortium Smartinfo Philippines Inc. and China Lot Synergy Enterprises. ‘Yan pa ba ang topic ngayon?” Pimentel asked.

(Why did the new PCSO management rely on this 2021 memorandum? Attorney, you are a lawyer, look at the first paragraph oh, it’s about the guidelines, the technical guidelines with the consortium Smartinfo Philippines Inc. and China Lot Synergy Enterprises. But are we still talking about that?)

READ: Execs with access to ‘root server’ may manipulate lottery system — PCSO IT official

In response, PCSO Legal Department officer-in-charge Leah Christine Jimenez explained that the PCSO started modernizing its games — including lotto — during the term of former president Duterte, hence getting a request from Medialdea.

However, Pimentel, a lawyer by profession, noted that Medialdea’s memorandum indicated an approval for a specific contract only, that with Smartinfo Philippines Inc. and China Lot Synergy Enterprises, so that the approval cannot be misused for other transactions.

“Your honor, as I explained earlier, during this time, PCSO was trying to expand its market so the ISAA together with the previous technical guidelines on betting platforms was submitted to the [OP] and we used this guidance from the OP,” Jimenez said.


“Kaya nga, sa talino nga ng executive secretary (Medialdea), nilimit niya na kaagad sa first paragraph pa lang eh, so that means the memorandum cannot be misused. Nilimit niya na kaagad oh. Tapos kayo naman, you’re all presidential-appointees, alam niyo namang may bago nang presidente, tama? Pagtingin niyo ng Section 10 alam niyo na ang purpose nito, para alam ng presidente lahat ng kilos ninyo,” Pimentel replied.

(That’s true, but the executive secretary showed his wisdom here, he limited the memorandum with just the first paragraph alone, so that means the memorandum cannot be misused. It was limited immediately. But you, you’re all presidential-appointees, you know there’s a new president, correct? Just taking a look at Section 10 shows you its purpose — that the president is aware of your moves.)

“Hindi si Presidente Duterte, but ‘yong incumbent, Diyos ko naman. Very basic eh, nagtataka ako how come you still… it shows that you spent the energy and you took the effort for the twisted reasoning that you’re giving to us now. You want to use a very qualified opinion of the past administration knowing fully well na nakaupo kayo d’yan because you’re appointed by the present administration,” he added.

(Not President Duterte, but the incumbent, my God. This is very basic eh, I am confused how come you still […] You want to use a very qualified opinion of the past administration knowing fully well that you are seated there because you’re appointed by the present administration.)

Tulfo agreed with Pimentel, warning PCSO that Medialdea or Duterte’s opinion on the use of online platforms for lotto may not be the same with incumbent Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin or President Marcos.

“Dapat bilang respeto sa nakaupong presidente, sa nag-appoint sa inyo, sana paso na kung anumang mga in-issue na memorandum ng previous administration, ‘wag niyo na pong pansinin ‘yon. Ang pansinin niyo kung ano ‘yong present administration’s stand,” Tulfo said.

(As respect to the sitting president, the one who appointed you there, you should have considered the issuances or memorandums of the previous administration expired, do not entertain that anymore. Focus on the present administration’s stand.)

“Kasi iba si Medialdea, iba si Bersamin. So ‘yong in-issue na opinion ni Medialdea with this letter, baka hindi mag-agree dito at hindi ito ang maging opinion ng present ES na si ES Bersamin. So therefore tama ang sinasabi ni Senator Koko,” he added.

(Because Medialdea is different, Bersamin is different. So the opinion issued by Medialdea with this letter, might disagree with, and may not be the opinion of the present ES, ES Bersamin. So therefore Senator Koko is right.)

The two Senate committees are probing PCSO over several senators’ concerns regarding allegations that games are being rigged, and that the office has entered into contracts that deprive lotto stall agents of income — like the online lotto venture.

During the hearing last January 18, Tulfo also lashed out at PCSO officials after they proceeded the implementation of its digital betting platform without getting approval from authorities first, particularly the Office of the President (OP).

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Robles, however, said that Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin allowed PCSO to determine the need for an online platform for lotto since it is more knowledgeable about this matter.

TAGS: e-lotto, PCSO

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