OVER 21,000 Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) gaming outlets have been shut down by agents of the Philippine National Police as of press time yesterday even as PNP Chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde appealed to all other similar establishments that have not been visited yet by the police to voluntarily close their business.
On Saturday, police across the country moved to halt all PCSO gaming activities including Lotto, STL, Keno and Perya ng Bayan. The President ordered the immediate stoppage of all gaming schemes operated, licensed and franchised by the PCSO.
He directed the PNP and the Armed Forces to ensure the enforcement of his order.
PNP spokesman Brigadier General Bernard M. Banac said that following the order of the President, the PNP has already served closure notices to the following business establishments with franchises, licenses, and concessions granted by the PCSO nationwide: Lotto outlets = 5,187; STL = 13,320; Perya ng Bayan = 2,194; and Keno- 472.
“PNP Chief, Police General Oscar D Albayalde urges all other similar establishments that have not been visited yet by police to refrain from engaging and voluntarily close down their business. The PNP remains vigilant to prevent occurrence of crimes and ready to respond to any call for help during crisis, calamity or emergency,” Banac added.
PNP officials who spoke to the Journal Group on condition of anonymity said that with the closure of all PCSO-run games, they expect jueteng to flourish although the President had previously said that drugs, not jueteng is the government’s main priority.
Officials said there is a need to replace the entire leadership of the PCSO with officials known for their integrity and for being incorruptible. They said that actually, trouble started in the PCSO when it was run by some retired generals who recruited their classmates from the Philippine Military Academy to serve as their assistants.
In turn, the recruits were the ones who made sure that PCSO gaming franchises will be given to their corporations, many of them believed being financed by illegal gambling personalities too. President Duterte had promised to expose the corrupt officials in the PCSO very soon.
Gen. Albayalde on Saturday immediately directed all Police Regional Offices nationwide to launch a massive crackdown on illegal gambling and arrest anyone who will defy the presidential order.
“Those businesses that continue to operate in connection with the franchises, licenses, concessions granted by the PCSO are hereby warned to cease and desist from engaging business, following the provisions stipulated in their franchises or face consequences under existing laws.
“We encourage the public to report to the police any suspected illegal gambling activity in their communities,” Banac added.
In Metro Manila, National Capital Region Police Office director Major General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar said that as of yesterday, they have closed a total of 2,211 PCSO outlets already. They include 349 STL outlets; 1,653 Lotto outlets, 19 Keno outlets; 55 Peryahan ng Bayan; and 135 Lotto with Keno outlets.
Eleazar said that five persons were arrested on Saturday for engaging in illegal gambling activities despite the President’s order.
“We have shut down 100 percent of all PCSO-run gaming outlets in Metro Manila,” Eleazar said.
The official said the majority of the lotto outlets were already found closed by his men during their inspection. Nevertheless, “closed” signs were placed on these establishments, he said.
In Central Visayas, Police Regional Office 7 director Brigadier General Debold M. Sinas ordered a regionwide crackdown on all forms of illegal gambling and PCSO gaming schemes in the aftermath of the presidential directive and ordered his men to post a notice of closure on the establishments.
With Jun Christopher Balangatan