Senators grill PCSO executives over erring small-town lottery operators

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Panfilo M. Lacson

SENATOR PANFILO M. Lacson yesterday called on officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to conduct a review of all small-town lottery (STL) operators, also known as authorized agent corporations (AACs), following reports from lawmakers of erring gaming firms.

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“I would suggest a general review of all these AACs and to find out in consultation with the police the violation, especially the glaring violations,” Mr. Lacson, chair of the committee on games and amusement, and a former police general, said during the Senate probe on controversies hounding the PCSO.

At the hearing, Camarines Sur Representative Luis Raymund F. Villafuerte, Jr. accused the state-run agency for not acting on the reported illegal activities of an STL operator in his province.

Senator Emmanuel D. Pacquiao also cited gaming firms in his hometown General Santos City that are operating without a mayor’s permit, while Mr. Lacson, also reported of one accredited STL operator owned by a mayor in Laguna.

Newly installed PCSO Chairman Anselmo Simeon P. Pinili and general manager Alexander F. Balutan committed to look into the reported erring STL operators when they convene as a board on Jan. 31.

“We are not tolerating that and we’re going after them with the help of stakeholders in the area,” Mr. Balutan said during the inquiry.

Mr. Lacson told reporters that another hearing will be conducted on the matter, focusing on the apparent violations of STL operators and the inaction of the PCSO to discipline them.

He said legitimate STL operators are losing out to competitors owned by gambling lords who are monopolizing certain areas.

“We want to hear what the PCSO will put in place in their new system to correct the violations,” Mr. Lacson said in Filipino.

Meanwhile, Wednesday’s hearing also revealed the conflict within the PCSO leadership with Board Member Sandra M. Cam accusing Mr. Balutan of corruption in connection with the agency’s Christmas party last year. — Camille A. Aguinaldo