PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo R. Duterte will not seek to abolish the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) after alleged corruption at the agency, his spokesman said on Tuesday.

The president may recommend the move but only Congress is empowered to abolish the office since it was created by law, presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo told reporters.

PCSO was created in 1954 to help raise funds for the government’s health programs and help the poor through charities.

Mr. Panelo said Mr. Duterte’s order stopping PCSO gambling operations carries the effect of a law and does not require a signed document.

“The directive of the President, even if verbal, is legal,” he said. “So, if it’s legal, you don’t have to put it down in writing.”

Mr. Panelo also said the president issued the order in keeping with the 1987 Constitution, which mandates him to serve and protect the people.

He added that if an agency under the Office of the President is committing unlawful acts, it is his duty to enforce the law and stop its operation.

Mr. Duterte ordered on Friday the closure of all PCSO gaming operations including those with franchises due to massive corruption.

His spokesman said the president would soon issue a an order providing for mechanisms to eliminate corruption at the agency.

The Philippine National Police on Sunday said it had closed 5,187 outlets for lotto, 13,320 for small town lottery, 2,194 for Peryahan ng Bayan and 472 for Keno Lotto Express.

On Monday, PCSO said its medical assistance program at the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City and all PCSO branch offices nationwide would still be available unless stopped.

Those holding winning lotto and other tickets may still claim their prizes at the PCSO head office, it said. — Arjay L. Balinbin