8 PCSO officials face complaint over expansion of small-town lottery
MANILA — An anti-corruption group has filed a second complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman against officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, this time over rules that expand the operations of small town lottery nationwide.
In a 21-page complaint on Monday, the Anti-Trapo Movement led by Leon Peralta accused eight PCSO officials of violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and the Revised Penal Code provision against monopolies and restraint of trade.
The complaint arose from the PCSO’s issuance of the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations on STL, which ATM claimed have been intended to benefit only the existing 18 STL licensees by restricting the ability of new applicants to enter into the business.
ATM also raised the “likelihood of the presence of foreign partners/financiers” of the STL licensees and jueteng operators that stood to supposedly gain from the revised IRR.
The complaint assailed several provisions of the revised IRR, picking them apart one by one in a bid to explain that they were meant to prevent new firms from entering into STL operations.
It claimed Section 5 of the revised IRR, which stated that the selection of STL locations would take in consideration “the projected viability of an STL operation in the area; and previous existence and/or operation of illegal numbers game in the locality.”
ATM interpreted the presence of the word “and” to mean the rules would only allow existing STL operators or jueteng operators to do business.
“The crafters who are herein Respondents, are very clear in their intentions in its selection of the areas where the expansion is to be allowed: that is either to revive a no longer existing jueteng operations [sic] in such area or; provide the opportunity to either existing STL operators to move into such area or current jueteng operators to legitimize its illegal business and even expand to other areas nationwide,” the complaint read.
ATM added that Section 11 of the revised IRR has imposed strict requirements on new STL applicants that were not required of existing licensees.
Specifically, the complaint noted that while new applicants have been required to state the conduct of STL operations as their primary corporate purpose, this was allegedly not the case for existing licensees.
It added that new applicants could not possibly comply with the requirement to have the “necessary personnel complement” if they have just been established.
ATM also claimed start-ups would not be able to present the requirements of a comprehensive company profile, biodata that state the officers’ qualifications and experience, a feasibility study on the proposed STL area, and information regarding illegal numbers games in the locations they would like to occupy.
“What is however glaringly apparent in this 2016 Revised IRR issued by herein Respondents, is that it widely opened the doors for its recalcitrant existing STL licensees and gambling lords who are ‘jueteng’ operators, to qualify and further expand their illicit operations anywhere in the country and merely promoted the trampling of our existing statutes…,” the complaint stated.
Named as respondents were: PCSO board chairman Jose Jorge Corpuz; board members Betty Nantes, Mabel Mamba, and Francisco Joaquin III; assistant general manager Conrado Zabella; and department managers Anna Liza Inciong, Arnel Casas, and Roger Ramirez.
ATM stated in the complaint that it spared General Manager Alexander Balutan and board members Loreto Ata and Michael Medado because there was “no showing… of any direct, conscious and wilful intent to commit the above-mentioned violations on their part.”
Notably, Balutan, Ata and Medado were appointees of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, whom the ATM name-dropped in a separate press release. SFM
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