COA flags PCSO for waiving P1.43-B claim from small town lottery operators

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) called out the  Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) board for waiving P1.43 billion in total unremitted obligations from small town lottery (STL) operations in 2018.

After reviewing PCSO's 2018 financial transactions, state auditors learned that the government agency, through the following board resolutions, gave 43 delinquent Authorized Agent Corporations (AACs) several considerations, among them, waiving unremitted obligations of for the first 3 months of operations:

The total unremitted obligations waived because of these resolutions amounted to P665.2 million.

The PCSO said it decided to waive the obligations as the concerned AACs were new in the area and had difficulties in penetrating the market due to illegal gambling, opposition of local government leaders, and "other factors beyond the control by the AACs and PCSO itself."

But COA said these considerations were not "embodied" in the resolutions as justifications for the waiver.

"The waived PMRR (presumptive monthly retail receipts) shortfalls in the total amount of P665.2 million were already settled claims by the PCSO. Hence, only the Congress of the Philippines, with the recommendations of COA and the President of the Philippines, may compromise or release said claims pursuant to [Presidential Decree No. 1445 and Executive Order No. 292]," COA report said.

"The Board of Directors of the PCSO has no authority to condone or waive valid claims by the PCSO," it added.

State auditors also found that aside from these resolutions, the board also issued Board Resolution No. 0401 (November 22, 2018) which further reduced the PCSO's PMRRs by P761.91 million.

This amount, according to COA, could have been collected and utilized by the PCSO for its various charity programs "in fulfillment of its mandate."

"Clearly, therefore, the issuance of BR No. 0401 was grossly disadvantageous to PCSO. The concerned officials of the PCSO should always bear in mind that [the] foremost consideration in making certain decisions is to protect the interest of the government," the COA pointed out. – Rappler.com