By Rey Panaligan
The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday ordered all trial court judges in the country to submit not later than August 15 all cases involving the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
In a circular, Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez said the inventory was needed “in view of serious allegations of massive corruption involving small town lottery and other gambling franchises issued by the PCSO, some of which have reached the courts.”
The inventory should cover all cases, whether pending or terminated, filed beginning January 2018 up to the present. It should be certified to by the judge and the clerk of court and may be emailed to email@example.com.
Earlier last March, Marquez issued a memorandum to the regional trial court (RTC) judges in Mandaluyong City in connection with the pending PCSO cases which were subject of concerns by Anselmo Simeon Pinili, PCSO chair.
Pinili pointed out that several branches of the Mandaluyong City RTC have issued temporary restraining orders (TROs) and injunctions against the PCSO.
He said in his letter that “RTC of Mandaluyong has issued writs of preliminary injunction (WPI) to ASAs (authorized small town lottery agents) whose agency agreements with PCSO were already terminated for non-payment of huge shortfall of sale due to PCSO – funds which should be subsidizing the hospital bills of indigents, medicines of cancer patients, treatment procedures for various sickness and other charity assistance of the less privileged.”
In his memorandum, Marquez reminded the RTC judges that the PCSO was the “’principal government agency’ that has the authority to ‘hold and conduct charity sweepstakes races, lotteries, and other similar activities, in such frequency and manner, as shall be determined, and subject to such rules and regulations as shall be promulgated by the Board of Directors.”
He also said that “the PCSO board shall have the sole discretion and authority to suspend, cancel, revoke or terminate the STL agency agreement of any Authorized Agency Corporations (AAC).”
Marquez said the issuance of the circular on inventory was approved by Chief Justice Lucas P. Bersamin, Marquez said.
All gaming operations of PCSO were ordered suspended by President Duterte starting last Saturday.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) said that more than 21,000 PCSO outlets nationwide have been padlocked and closed.
Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe the reported irregularities, particular the non-remittance of the government’s rightful shares in PCSO’s gaming operations.
While the investigation is ongoing, the operations of lotto and small-town lottery and other franchised gaming are not expected to resume, Guevarra said.