Senate to probe PCSO controversies on Jan. 17

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 12) — The Senate will start investigating the controversies at the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) on Jan. 17.

The Committee on Games and Amusement, chaired by Sen. Ping Lacson, will invite PCSO Director Sandra Cam, gaming tycoon Atong Ang, some police regional directors and some provincial directors as resource speakers.

Cam — a whistleblower in a 2005 Senate probe into the illegal numbers game "jueteng" — said on Jan. 5 that she received death threats for exposing the PCSO's supposedly lavish Christmas party, which she claimed cost about ₱9 million.

Read: Sandra Cam claims receiving death threats amid PCSO Christmas party exposé

PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan denied the allegation, saying that the event was just ₱6 million and was meant for around 1,500 PCSO employees.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a December 2017 press briefing that the President will look into the matter.

"I think you know that the President does not tolerate extravagance," he said. "So we do not know yet. As you know, (the President is) very sensitive to what is reported by his own people in the different branches of government."

Lacson said on Thursday that he wants to find out who are behind the alleged corrupt practices at the agency and the potential collection of small town lotteries (STL) in other areas.

In January 2017, the PCSO launched an expansion of STL operations to curb illegal gambling in the country.

Lacson said the committee will look into the Presumptive Monthly Receipts report of all STL operators.

"Gusto nating malaman sinu-sino ba itong naisyuhan ng contract ng PCSO na nago-operate," Lacson said. "Sino ba talaga yung kapitalista diyan? Lumalabas hindi talaga sila."

[Translation: We want to find out whic operators the PCSO issued contracts to. Who are the capitalists in these operations? It appears that it isn't them.]

The committee conducted three hearings looking into the amendment of the charter of PCSO, which is the principal government agency for raising and providing funds for health programs, medical assistance and services, and national charities.

The PCSO raises funds through sweepstakes and lottery games.

CNN Philippines Digital Producer VJ Bacungan contributed to this report.