Manila, July 29 (IANS) The Philippines National Police (PNP) has closed down 21,173 lottery stores in the country after President Rodrigo Duterte imposed a ban on gambling due to alleged corruption within the state regulatory office.
PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde on Sunday night made an appeal to gambling venues operated by the Philippines Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to voluntarily suspend activities should the authorities fail to arrive with the closure order.
Critical of the PCSO contracts, whose funds are supposed to go to charities and health programmes, President Duterte said: “They were all cheating and the contracts were like crafted in favour of corruption and to favour other corporations and people. I will not allow it.”
“I will not honour any order from any court stopping us or enjoining us to stop our desire to go into a massive investigation for the massive corruption that exists in the PCSO,” the President said while announcing his decision, reported Efe.
In March, Duterte fired PCSO general manager Alexander Balutan for alleged corruption in light of a congressional investigation into irregularities at the state charity.
The current PCSO general manager, Royina Garma, said that the agency will comply with the presidential order, but urged him to reconsider his decision as the lottery generated huge revenues.
In 2018, the PCSO — established in 1954 — had a record revenue of 63.5 billion pesos (more than $1.1 billion), 20 per cent higher than the previous year.
The state lottery was launched in mid-2000 to eradicate a popular illegal game among the working class known as “Jueteng”, the income of which was allegedly widely used to bribe police and politicians.