MANILA – All the funds received by the Philippine National Police (PNP) as monthly revenue shares from the Small Town Lottery (STL) are aboveboard and accounted for, and there is definitely no bribery involved, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) General Manager Alexander Balutan said Monday.
Balutan said the PCSO and PNP have a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) giving the latter the lead role in eradicating illegal gambling such as jueteng in connection with Executive Order No. 13, or the all-out war against illegal gambling, issued in 2017 by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
Earlier, gambling operator Charlie “Atong” Ang alleged that the PNP receives bribes from STL operators.
This did not sit well with PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.
“Baka sanay sya sa bribery dahil dati siyang gambling lord din siya ‘di ba [Maybe he’s used to bribery because he used to be a gambling lord, right?]” Dela Rosa was quoted saying of Ang.
Dela Rosa confirmed that the funds received from the proceeds of STL earnings are being used in anti-illegal gambling operations and certain percentages go to the national and regional headquarters.
“All funds received by the PNP are all accounted for,” said Dela Rosa.
During Balutan’s watch, the STL made history by generating P15.7-billion revenue in 2017 (P1.3 billion/month) from a mere P4.7 billion in just one year.
Out of the P1.12-billion STL shares, PCSO gave:
• P314.9 million to the PNP;
• P78.7 million to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG);
• P472.4 million to the cities/municipalities;
• P103.7 million to Congressional Districts, and
• P150.3 million to the provinces.
Meanwhile, Balutan clarified that while the President tasked PCSO to eradicate illegal gambling, the agency is powerless in terms of conducting operations against illegal gambling operations.
“We have no law enforcement power to police, arrest, and apprehend illegal gamblers/operators. Mas maganda nga kung meron kami nun eh,” Balutan said.
During a hearing by the Senate Committee on Games and Amusement recently, Committee Chairman Sen. Panfilo Lacson acknowledged PCSO’s predicament.
However, Lacson clarified this does not exempt PCSO from its duty to go after illegal gambling operators.
“PCSO, not the Philippine National Police (PNP), is still ‘ultimately responsible’ for stopping a gaming firm from engaging in ‘illegal gambling in the guise of operating a lawful STL’ since it gave those gaming firms authority to operate,” he said.
Balutan explained the agency has maintained close coordination with the PNP.
“Immediately after the last congressional hearing last December, we summoned the PNP and asked them to investigate such violations. Because as far as we are concerned, kami po ay walang (we do not have) police power,” Balutan said.
In a separate hearing of the same committee at the House of the Representatives, Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez shared the same sentiment on how to eradicate illegal gambling.
Suarez said it is high time the government comes up with a clear statement and commitment from the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government).
“Even with the clear intention, PCSO cannot stop proliferation if there’s no police assistance. Wala ho talaga,” Suarez said.