Duterte declares PCSO and lotto activities illegal

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a halt on all gaming activities of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), including lottery amid claims of “massive corruption” in the agency.

The Philippine president announced this through a video on the Presidential Communications Operations Office Facebook page on Friday night. 

“I have today ordered the closure, the stoppage of all gaming schemes or whatever nature however done that got the franchises to do so from the PCSO. The ground is massive corruption involving all,” he said. 

Under the order, all PCSO-granted franchises and licenses have also been terminated. 

“It becomes illegal because as of today all of those permits and concessions or whatever are terminated,” Duterte said.

Duterte also said he will not honor any court order that would prevent him from closing down the operation of the games. 

“As of today I will not honor any order from any court stopping us or enjoining us to stop our desire to go into a massive investigation for the massive corruption that is existing in the PCSO,” the President said.

On Saturday morning, Police teams were sent out to shut down lotto and other PCSO gaming outlets in the country. The public has also been encouraged to report any illegal gambling activities in their area. 

“We encourage the public to report to the police any suspected illegal gambling activity in their communities,” said Philippine National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac to reporters on Saturday. 

According to the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), more than 21,000 gaming outlets have been shut down across the country, including 5,187 lotto stores; 13,320 small town lottery kiosks; 2,194 Peryahan ng Bayan outlets; and 472 Keno shops.

However, the PCSO is not going down without some kind of fight. 

On Saturday, General Manager Royina Garma said it would ask President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider his order against PCSO and lottery. 

“The PCSO shall appeal to the Office of the President for the resumption of the conduct of all games to PCSO’s mandate and for the interest of the PCSO, its agents, and its beneficiaries,” he said in a Facebook video message

The shutdown represents a loss of P10.5 billion in investments, according to lawmakers.