Philippine national lottery resumes after suspension amid corruption reports

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered all licences, concessionaires, and franchises issued by the PCSO to be recalled, cancelled and withdrawn last Friday after receiving reports of a conspiracy "to cheat the government of its rightful shares".
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered all licences, concessionaires, and franchises issued by the PCSO to be recalled, cancelled and withdrawn last Friday after receiving reports of a conspiracy "to cheat the government of its rightful shares".PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (DPA) - National lottery operations in the Philippines resumed on Wednesday (July 31) after President Rodrigo Duterte partially lifted an order to close all gaming activities run by the government's charity agency amid reports of massive corruption.

Only national lottery operations were allowed to resume, said presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo.

"The rest of (the) gaming operations with franchises, licences or permits granted by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PSCO)... shall remain suspended pending the investigation of illegal activities and corrupt practices related thereto," he said.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said the national lottery was allowed to resume after "investigators found no anomalies in the conduct of its operation".

"Its sanctity remained untainted and proper regulatory rules followed," he added.

The PCSO operates the national lottery, small town lotteries and other local gaming schemes in a bid to raise funds for health programmes, medical assistance, services and charities.

Mr Duterte ordered "all licences, concessionaires, and franchises issued by the PCSO recalled, cancelled and withdrawn" last Friday after receiving reports of a conspiracy "to cheat the government of its rightful shares", Mr Panelo said.

Lottery operators, employees and bettors complained they were being punished for alleged crimes committed by others, and appealed to Mr Duterte to reconsider his decision.

PSCO general manager Royina Garma said national lottery draws that were suspended between last Saturday and Tuesday, when the closure order was in effect, would be conducted on Wednesday.

"The PSCO continues its endeavour to fight and eradicate illegal gambling and corruption as the agency thrives in serving the public, especially those who are in dire need of help," she said in a statement.