PCSO officials face plunder case before Ombudsman

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Citizens Crime Watch charged members of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) board of directors, and Small Town Lottery (STL) operators for allegedly defrauding the government.

Named as respondents in the complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman on Thursday (February 11) are PCSO general manager Jose Ferdinand Rojas II, assistant general manager Remeliza Gatbuyo, Francisco Joaquin III, Mabel Mamba, and Betty Nantes.

The STL operators are identified in the list of respondents only as John and Jane Does.

The respondents allegedly conspired to pocket STL revenue funds since the game was revived in 2007.

The government started STL in 1987 in an effort to get rid of jueteng, the illegal numbers game.

Complainant Diego Magpantay said the government stands to lose about P50-billion yearly through non-declaration of actual sales by STL operators.

"Nung mag take over ang STL bakit ganon nalang? Eh ang purpose ay patayin ang jueteng. Pero napatay ba ng STL ang jueteng? Hindi. At lalo pang yumaman yung mga nag-ooperate nito," Magpantay said.

According to Magpantay. the projected remittance from STL operations should amount to at least P50-billion annually.

In recent years, however, Magpantay said declared remittances from STL average only about P4-billion.

Magpantay added even the PCSO oversight committee found violations of the implementing rules and regulations of STL operations but the board failed to carry out corrective measures.

Also read: Lawmakers look into PCSO revenue allocations

"Ang nakakaduda rito, yung mga opisyales ng PCSO baka kasali sila rito. Bakit i-sususpend nila yung operation, tapos i-eextend na naman. Bakit? Samantalang sila mismo nagsasabi na may mga violation."

PCSO chair Erineo Maliksi, a former Cavite governor, is not included in the complaint Magpantay explained Maliksi was only appointed PCSO chair last year.

In a text message, Rojas said the PCSO board is confident the case will be dismissed for lack of merit.

"It can be considered as a malicious attempt to malign the board by people with vested interests," Rojas claimed.

Rojas explained the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG) has closely monitored the performance of the PCSO board annually.