More plunder raps vs PCSO execs
An anticorruption watchdog on Thursday brought graft and plunder charges anew against the top officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) for allegedly unlawfully exempting gambling operators from paying P2.9 billion in taxes from 2006 to 2015.
In a joint affidavit, Carlo Batalla and Diego Magpantay of the Citizens Crime Watch (CCW) also asked the Office of the Ombudsman to “exercise its coercive and investigating powers by immediately initiating an investigation” against ranking PCSO officials and several private individuals.
Last week, the group also filed a P50-billion plunder case against the same PCSO officials for allegedly conspiring to defraud the government of revenues from the operations of the small town lottery (STL).
Named respondents were PCSO General Manager Jose Ferdinand Rojas II, Assistant General Manager Remeliza Gabuyo and board directors Francisco Manuel Joaquin III, Mabel Mamba and Betty Nantes.
Also included in the complaint were officials and owners of companies operating STL in the provinces, including Pirouette Corp., Ramloid Gaming Corp., CTG Prime Ventures Corp., Batangas Enhanced Technology Systems, Diamond Gaming & Research Center Corp. and Golden Matrix Gaming & Amusement Corp.
Batalla and Magpantay also accused Rojas and the other PCSO executives of conspiring with STL operators to use the state-sanctioned lottery game as a smokescreen for the illegal numbers racket “jueteng,” a similar two-digit lottery game.
“[T]he said concerned PCSO officials took undue advantage of their official position, authority or influence to enable STL operators to unjustly enrich themselves at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino people,” the pair said in their nine-page complaint.
“There exists a pattern of overt or criminals acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy between the PCSO officials and STL operators to constitute and allow the STL as a front of [jueteng],” they said.
According to the CCW officials, they decided to press charges against Rojas and the others after they were “disturbed” by an article in the Inquirer on Nov. 24, 2015, regarding Rojas’ admission that STL operators owed the government P2.9 billion in unpaid documentary stamp tax.
The complainants said they then learned that the PCSO board led by Rojas passed a resolution on Sept. 11, 2012, which paved the way for the “deliberate noninclusion and noncollection” of the mandated 10-percent documentary stamp tax from the STL owners.
Batalla and Magpantay said they did not include PCSO Chair Erineo “Ayong” Maliksi as respondent since President Benigno Aquino III appointed him to his post only last year.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.