MANILA (3rd UPDATE)—President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday night ordered the suspension of operations of all gaming schemes granted by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) due to "massive corruption."
"I have today ordered the closure, the stoppage of all gaming schemes sa... whatever nature, however done, that got the franchises to do from the PCSO. The ground is massive corruption involving all, pati the courts who repeatedly issued injunctions to paralyze government and to allow corruption to thrive," he said in a special message uploaded on the Presidential Communications Operations Office's Facebook page.
Duterte ordered the police and military to enforce his order to shut down all PCSO gambling operations such as lotto, Peryahan ng Bayan, small town lottery (STL), and Keno.
"I will give them 24 hours to remove them from the public places. Beginning tomorrow at sunrise, everything, all transactions and gaming, wager of bets, becomes illegal," the President said.
"Wala ako magawa. I have to do it. I will not honor transactions that are clearly on the side of, you know, scheming people, Republic of the Philippines, of the money due it. Puro dayaan lahat. At 'yung mga kontrata ay parang crafted in favor of corruption and to favor other corporations and people. I will not allow it," he added.
The president gave law enforcers 24 hours starting tomorrow, Saturday to stop the gaming activities operated, licensed and franchised by PCSO, which he now declared as illegal.
"I am ordering the PNP [Philippine National Police], PNP Chief [Oscar] Albayalde, to arrest anybody, and goes also for the military, si [Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Benjamin] Madrigal, to arrest people engaged in gambling activities in connection with the franchises, licenses, concessions granted by the PCSO," he said.
"It becomes illegal because as of today, all of those permits and concessions or whatever are terminated."
Duterte also said he will not honor any court order in their investigation on the alleged massive corruption in the PCSO.
"Irrespective of the, yung mga sinabi ko na na court order enjoining everybody to stop or not to do or what not to do, especially government. Hindi ako papayag ng ganoon. And I said I will not honor anything there. Everybody has to stop," he said.
Duterte said he was left with no choice because PCSO asked for it.
"You've offered something to tie the people, allowing gambling and maybe it can help in the economic activity because money goes around. But if you f*** government, that's something else. Talagang kayo ang nanghingi. Ibibigay ko sa inyo," he said.
'IN DUE TIME'
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the chief executive will identify those involved in alleged PCSO corruption in due time.
"Papangalanan lahat nila 'yan. Sa ngayon kino-collate pa... pinaiimbestigahan ng mabuti. Ayaw niyang magkamali," he said over DZMM Teleradyo's Moonlight Serenade.
(He will name everyone involved in the corruption. They are still collating it. He wants it thoroughly investigated. He doesn't want to make a mistake.)
Meanwhile, those seeking financial assistance for medical or health-related cases can ask for help from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), Office of the President or other government agencies, Panelo said.
"Kung ipapatigil, ibig sabihin, walang papasok na pera maliban sa dating pera. Meron pa naman tayong PAGCOR at sa ibang ahensiya ng gobyerno," he said.
(If the operations are stopped, money won't come in, except for those already raised. We still have PAGCOR and other government agencies.)
Panelo also said there won't be a draw for Saturday's lotto—Grand Lotto 6/55 and Lotto 6/42—since the president ordered the immediate closure of all activities.
Duterte appointed in June 2019 Cebu City police chief Police Co. Royina Garma as the new general manager of the state gaming regulator.
Garma replace retired Marine general Alexander Balutan, who was fired in March "due to serious allegations of corruption."
Balutan drew controversy in 2018 over a supposedly lavish PCSO Christmas party, where the agency spent about P6 million.
Proceeds from lotto ticket sales also went down in Feb. 2019, registering only P1.59 billion in sales compared to the same period last year with P2.61 billion.