Duterte stops lotto, all PCSO-licensed games

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 27) — President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the immediate halt to all gaming operations, licenses and franchises of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

Duterte announced this through a video on the Presidential Communications Operations Office Facebook page late Friday night.

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

All PCSO-granted franchises and licenses have also been terminated as of his order, Duterte added.

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

All transactions and wagers done through these games have also become illegal.

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

"As of today I will not honor any 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.

He gave a 24-hour deadline for all PCSO gambling schemes to be removed from public places.

"Since as of this moment beginning now, the licenses and franchises of whatever kind or nature granted by the PCSO as to all gambling schemes lotto peryahan ng bayan, STL, and those machines there that can be found everywhere, I will give them 24 hours to remove them from the public places," Duterte said.

He ordered the military and the police to arrest those who will violate this order.

"I am ordering the PNP chief (Oscar) Albayalde to arrest anybody and those also for the military, si (Armed Forces chief of staff Benjamin)Madrigal, to arrest people engaged in gambling activities in connected with the franchises, licenses and concessions granted by the PCSO," Duterte said.

In 2018, The Commission on Audit (COA) reported more than a third of the PCSO's charity fund for 2017 was not used for charity programs as mandated by law.

COA said ₱5.89 billion of the charity fund was used for various purposes not related to health programs, medical assistance services, and other charities, violating Republic Act 1169.

COA also flagged that state lottery officials overspent the charity fund in 2017, using up a total of ₱18.035 billion and exceeding the net allocated amount of ₱14.40 billion. This resulted in a ₱3.53-billion deficit.