It’s PCSO chair’s turn to face raps
Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chair Erineo “Ayong” Maliksi has found himself in the same boat as his colleagues in the state-run lottery agency.
Maliksi has been charged with graft and plunder in the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly arbitrarily stopping the operations of the Small Town Lottery (STL) last year which supposedly cost the government P15 billion in foregone revenues.
The Filipino Alliance for Transparency and Empowerment (Fate) brought the complaint against Maliksi on Thursday moments after another anticorruption group, the Citizens’ Crime Watch (CCW), filed a similar complaint against PCSO general manager Ferdinand Rojas II and several others.
The complaint was the third criminal case that Fate had filed against the PCSO chair since last month.
Maliksi, a former Cavite governor and congressman, has been at odds with Rojas and other ranking PCSO officials since he was appointed by President Aquino to head the agency tasked to supervise the lotto draws, STL and other lottery games.
In an earlier interview, Maliksi dismissed as part of a “demolition job” against him the allegations that he used his position to grant P2.1 million in financial assistance to a PCSO official who supposedly worked as his personal driver.
He said the attacks on him were an offshoot of the reforms he started to implement in the PCSO and his efforts to prevent gambling syndicates from using STL as front for the underground numbers racket “jueteng.”
In a six-page complaint, Fate president Jennifer Castro said the PCSO chair should be held criminally liable when he issued a memorandum in June 2015 which momentarily stopped the STL draws without the approval of the PCSO board.
She said Maliksi also ordered a moratorium on the awarding of new STL permits to private companies for two months.
According to Castro, Maliksi’s arbitrariness led to a loss of about P15 billion in projected income for the PCSO.
“The loss cannot be avoided as a small amount to ignore, thus it is (the) complainant’s stand that the act of respondent in issuing the moratorium is liable under the law on plunder,” Castro said.
However, she did not cite how the PCSO chair could have pocketed at least P50 million in ill-gotten wealth, one of the basic elements of the crime of plunder.
Instead, she argued that the plunder law also prohibits public officials like Maliksi from “taking undue advantage of official position, authority, relationship, connection and influence… at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino people.”
“It is clear that respondent took advantage of his position and authority to stop the STL operations at that time,” Castro said.
“What makes it more damaging is that it is not within the ambit of respondent’s power to issue a moratorium without any PCSO board approval… nonetheless respondent not only issued the same, but ordered for its implementation,” she added.
Castro said Maliksi’s actions were “highly suspicious that it can even be perceived to benefit a certain group (which) would want to replace the STL operations with a new scheme of game.”
“The real motivation of respondent manifests through his act by ignoring what was mandated in law and procedure within the PCSO, thus in act of abuse of authority and power that needs to be dealt with,” she said.
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