Balutan vs Cam: Gambling lord dragged into PCSO squabble
General Manager Alexander Balutan of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) began the new year with broadsides against PCSO Director Sandra Cam, who earlier assailed the agency’s Christmas party as “extravagant.”
Balutan accused Cam on Tuesday of dropping the name of President Rodrigo Duterte when she and gambling operator Charlie “Atong” Ang visited the PCSO in 2016 to lobby the agency to allow Ang to operate Small Town Lottery (STL) nationwide.
“Cam and Ang even dropped the names of the President and his special assistant, Bong Go, who supposedly sent them to Balutan and Corpuz to discuss how the STL should be operated,” Balutan said.
Photo of visit
“We have photos to prove they came to us offering a deal, which we promptly rejected,” he said.
Balutan sent reporters on Tuesday the photo of Ang visiting the PCSO.
He reiterated that Ang met with PCSO Chair Jorge Corpuz shortly after their appointment to the agency in 2016 with the help of Cam.
Ang offered to operate STL nationwide in exchange for P200 million in monthly remittances, but PCSO officials “promptly” rejected the offer, according to the PCSO general manager.
Mr. Duterte earlier formed a task force to introduce institutional changes in STL to stamp out illegal gambling in the country.
The Arroyo administration reintroduced STL in 2006 to stem underground lottery, but it was used by gambling syndicates as a front for similar illegal numbers games like “jueteng,” “two-ball” and “masiao.”
In STL and jueteng, bettors choose two-number combinations. Bets in jueteng involve a pair of numbers from 1 to 37. In STL, the choices are from 1 to 40.
Because the two games have similar mechanics, STL has been used as a front by jueteng operators, according to those opposed to jueteng.
In radio reports and previous interviews, Ang belied Balutan and Corpuz’s allegations, saying the meeting with the PCSO officials was in response to a request by Mr. Duterte to help the agency fine-tune STL, given his gaming background.
He also said the visit to the PCSO was before and not after the two officials’ appointment.
“I just gave them advice. I proved to them that I’m not fond of ‘kalokohan’ (shenanigans),” Ang was quoted in an earlier report.
The Inquirer tried to reach Ang through calls and e-mail but had not gotten a response as of press time.
In a recent radio interview, Balutan said Cam “flip-flopped” in her answers and denied the meeting.
Balutan said Cam’s recent exposé on the PCSO Christmas party was a “demolition job.”
Cam wants to become chair or general manager of PCSO so Ang will have a hand in manipulating the systems of the lottery games, Balutan said.
Earlier, Cam rejected Balutan’s claims that the PCSO spent only P6 million and not P9.5 million (as Cam had claimed) for the Christmas Party.
“[Our strong campaign against jueteng] is the only reason why Ang finds an ally and close friend Cam to destroy STL in particular and PCSO in general,” Balutan said.
“We have achieved a record high STL revenue of up to P18 billion this year, from just more than P4 billion a year. Our STL is a potent source of income to finance the Duterte government’s free medical services to Filipinos, especially the indigents,” he said in statement.
In recent interviews, Cam remained firm in her allegations that the PCSO spent P9.5 million and not P6 million as Balutan and Corpuz claimed for the Christmas party.
“They cannot lie to us because I have a breakdown, like, for the gifts, and other items on the breakdown,” she said, adding that she had papers to prove the overspending in Congress.
She described the P6-million spending as still grandiose and unjustifiable. “You can have a party with P300,000,” she was quoted in an earlier report.
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