PCSO grilled for allowing 2 lottery firms to continue operations despite expired contracts

Zandro Ochona, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 07 2020 11:22 PM

MANILA - Officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) were grilled on Monday for allowing 2 lottery companies to continue operating despite having expired contracts with the government.

During the budget briefing at the lower chamber, Quezon City 4th District Rep. Jesus “Bong” Suntay said the initial contract for some of the companies were awarded in 1995 and would last for 8 years, and should have ended in 2003.

However, Philippine Gaming Management Corp. (PGMC) and Pacific Online Systems Corp. (POSC) continue to operate despite having expired contracts.

PCSO general manager Royina Garma confirmed the contracts of the two companies are already expired, but said temporary restraining orders were filed as PCSO was ready to bid out its operations contract.

She said the case was resolved in early 2019 and the bidding process was started. However, the winning company failed to submit all the requirements. They were ready to continue with another bidding for this year but the pandemic happened.

“Hopefully by next year ma-award na po namin kung sinong company ang mananalo para po doon sa system po ng lotto,” said Garma.

“We are doing our best to expedite po ito kasi we know it is an issue talaga, kasi long overdue na po ang dalawang company and it is true po yung observation ninyo na 'yung mga makina nila luma na," she added.

Garmann said to improve on the lotto machine would have to entail a new contract. 

Suntay said PCSO might be on a losing end since the extension of the contract has been longer than its original term.

"In fact, you have no valid contract to speak of,” he said, adding the PCSO should have terminated or asked for a favorable contract to the government.

Garma said the PCSO can terminate the contract now.

“But we almost have 9,000 agents working na meron pong terminals. Kung i-stop po namin 'yun, babalik kami sa manual or other forms of betting system,” she said.

Garma pointed out the lease contract includes doubles and draw machines.

 “So kapag i-stop din namin yun, wala na rin kaming gagamiting bola at draw machines kasi kasama po 'yun sa original contract nitong dalawang company,” she said.

She said they are unbundling draw machines and terminals for PCSO so it will not be dependent on private companies.

PCSO is currently reviewing the lotto implementing rules and regulations (IRR) to consider other forms of betting systems.

The state charity office continues to operate 3 games, namely Lotto, Keno and Instant Sweepstakes.