MANILA –House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Monday called for a halt to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office’s (PCSO’s) small town lottery (STL) which has been used as front for the illegal numbers game ‘jueteng’.
During the hearing of the House games and amusements committee on illegal gambling, Alvarez grilled PCSO officials for allowing the operations of STL since it is not within the PCSO charter to conduct such activities on a local or provincial scale.
PCSO chairperson Jose Jorge Corpuz cited Republic Act No. 1169 as the special law conferring PCSO the power to run lotteries, charity sweepstakes, horse races and other similar activities in national scale.
Alvarez, however, countered that the agency is just using STL to justify jueteng.
“Let’s not fool each other. You are just finding a justification for jueteng… We are telling you that what you are doing is illegal. Congress is the one that gives you your charter. We are telling you that what you’re doing is wrong because it is not part of your charter,” Alvarez said.
The Speaker further warned that the PCSO could face charges before the Ombudsman for allowing STL operations.
“You need to put an end to it unless you want to be sued before the Ombudsman for doing things that you are not authorized,” Alvarez added.
Meanwhile, Parañaque City Rep. Gus Tambunting, committee chair, said it is high-time to amend the PCSO charter.
Tambunting said that operations must be suspended until Congress is able to iron and thresh out new rules for STL.
“Definitely the committee is in the view that the authority is not there and as Speaker has manifested, the billions that was collected does not justify the illegal act,” Tambunting added.
Corpus, for his part, said the charter of the agency needs to be amended so that they can conduct other games for fund raising.