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PCSO officials face P50-B plunder case

/ 11:59 PM February 10, 2016

Members of the board of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and small town lottery (STL) operators are set to be charged today (Thursday) with plunder for allegedly conspiring to defraud the government.

Interestingly, PCSO Chair Erineo “Ayong” Maliksi, a former Cavite governor, was not included in the P50-billion plunder case to be filed in the Office of the Ombudsman.

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Maliksi, who was named chair on April 22, 2015, reportedly does not get along with other members of the PCSO.

Diego Magpantay, a former teacher and now the head of Citizens Crime Watch, said that Inquirer reports and the public hearing in the House of Representatives on alleged fraud in the state-sanctioned lottery were eye-openers that prodded his group to look into the supposed anomaly.

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“The news reports and the Congress hearings caught our attention. When we conducted our own research, we discovered the huge anomaly in the PCSO operation of the STL,” Magpantay told the Inquirer.

The government started STL in 1987 in hopes that it would stamp out “jueteng,” an illegal numbers racket. Both involved betting on two-number combinations.

Magpantay claimed he was a close associate of antipork activist Quintin Paredes San Diego, who was killed by hired gunmen in Dingalan, Aurora province, in November last year.

Respondents

Respondents in the complaint are members of the PCSO board—General Manager Jose Ferdinand Rojas II, Francisco Manuel Joaquin III, Mabel Mamba and Betty Nantes, and Remeliza Gatbuyo.

In a text message to the Inquirer, Rojas described the charges against the PCSO board members as “baseless.”

“There are 80 plus provinces nationwide and we conduct STL in only 14 provinces,” Rojas said. “Any and all kinds of numbers game activity in the 70 plus provinces [such as jueteng or masiao] are not sanctioned by the PCSO [and as such] are all illegal.”

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The PCSO board’s performance, he said, is “closely monitored” by the Governance Commission for government-owned and -controlled corporations.

“As such, we believe the case filed against the board will be dismissed for lack of merit,” Rojas said.

Asked why PCSO Chair Maliksi was not included in the complaint, Magpantay said: “Maliksi had acted in the interest of the PCSO and even asked the [National Bureau of Investigation] to conduct an investigation. I believe he is not party to the anomaly because he asked for an investigation.”

Case against Maliksi

Last month, a group called the Filipino Alliance for Transparency and Empowerment said it would file corruption charges against Maliksi in the Office of the Ombudsman for reportedly hiring ghost consultants and giving unwarranted favor to his driver under the agency’s financial assistance program to patients.

The STL operators named in the complaint were CTG Prime Ventures Inc. (for the province of Nueva Ecija), Ramloid Gaming Corp. (Laguna), Batangas Enhanced Technology Systems Inc. (Batangas), Diamond Gaming and Research Center Corp. (Bulacan), Piroutte Corp. (Quezon) and Golden Matrix Gaming and Amusement Center (Zambales).

“In our research, we got hold of special audit reports of the Commission on Audit (COA) that show huge anomalies in the STL sales and remittances. We also have PCSO resolutions that show the supposed connivance between the board of directors and the STL operators,” Magpantay said. With a report from Jovic Yee

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TAGS: Nation, news, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Philippine graft and corruption cases
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