PCSO General Manager Mel Robles

By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr. 

MANDALUYONG CITY — The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) on Tuesday (June 11) termed as dubious and highly questionable the graft and plunder complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) by a group calling itself FPJPM, against some of its top officials relative to the agency’s e-lotto agreement with a private company.

In an interview, PCSO General Manager Mel Robles pointed out the technical rules on the agency’s betting platforms, which include e-lotto have been approved by the Office of the President (OP).

Robles expounded the PCSO is conducting e-lotto pursuant to the authority given by the OP in 2021, given that it has sufficient authority and is in a better position to evaluate and approve its technical guidelines on betting platforms for the minimum technical requirements for PCSO games. 

“The OP guidance, being an act of the executive, remains valid until amended, revoked, or replaced by its issuing authority,” he stressed. 

Robles added the conduct of e-lotto is in accordance with the advice of PCSO’s statutory counsel, the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC), which also found the Memorandum of Agreement dated Aug. 30, 2023 with Pacific Online System Corporation, tenable. 

The OGCC has already clarified its earlier stand that policy considerations call for the payment of commissions in the form of reasonable costs, at a rate capped by PCSO Board of Directors according to its sound business judgment.

Robles qualified the e-lotto is an exercise of the Board’s sound business judgment to increase sales revenues, by expanding the market for PCSO games using online and digital betting platforms. 

Similarly, to increase sales revenues, the PCSO Board, in the exercise of its sound business judgment, previously approved the increase of the minimum guaranteed amount for jackpot prizes for lotto games to increase sales revenues. 

As a result, the move by PCSO Board generated PhP879 million sales revenues, net of prizes.

This, as Robles revealed they are mulling the filing of complaints against those behind what he described as a clear smear campaign against the agency and its officers.

“We will not take this matter sitting down. We will unmask those behind this dubious complaint and file appropriate counter-charges against them,” he said.

Robles noted the issues discussed in the Ombudsman complaint were already exhaustively discussed during the previous hearings conducted by both Houses of Congress, and were already answered and clarified by the agency.

In an earlier statement to the media, Robles said that the complaints were already superseded by events because the OGCC had already approved the agreement.

He wondered why the past leadership wasn’t included in the complaints, prompting him to theorize that the lawsuit was initiated by the former chairperson.

“It is unfortunate that the FPJPM filed a complaint without understanding the MOA PCSO entered with a service provider. Our agreement is not final until we get a favorable decision from OGCC,” Robles was quoted as saying. 

“All issues cited are now overtaken by events as the OGCC has already given PCSO a favorable review on the contract we entered into. This is gross misrepresentation of facts which we suspect was made by the former chairman who surprisingly was not included in the complaint,” he stressed. – By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.

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