TUCP asks Duterte to consider workers affected by crackdown on PCSO games

MANILA, Philippines – Labor group Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) urged President Rodrigo Duterte to consider the thousands of workers who would be displaced following his order to stop all gaming schemes of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

TUCP said that while it "respects" Duterte's decision to suspend PCSO's operations due to "massive corruption," they hope the agency's attendants were considered in the process.

The group appealed to Duterte to institute reforms in the agency as soon as possible to avoid compromising workers' livelihoods.

"Nakikiusap ang mga manggagawa ng PCSO betting stations na nawalan ng trabaho na kung maaari bilisan ang panahon ng suspension of operations upang sila ay makapagpatuloy sa kanilang trabaho. Nangangamba kasi sila na baka tuluyan na silang mawalan ng trabaho at mawalan ng kabuhayan," TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay said on Saturday, July 27.

(The employees of PCSO betting stations who have no more work appeal to you to quickly lift the suspension operations so that they can continue working. They are nervous they might lose their jobs and source of livelihood.)

PRESIDENT'S ORDER. Police close down a lottery outlet in Quezon City on Saturday, July 27. QCPD photo

PRESIDENT'S ORDER. Police close down a lottery outlet in Quezon City on Saturday, July 27.

QCPD photo

What order? Late Friday night, July 26, Duterte declared all gaming schemes of PCSO such as lotto, STL (small town lottery), and Peryahan ng Bayan as illegal and ordered their immediate closure, citing "massive corruption" in establishments.

Duterte had also ordered the police and the military to arrest people "engaged in gambling activities in connection with the franchises, licenses, concessions granted by the PCSO." 

The order came months after Duterte fired PCSO general manager Alexander Balutan in March over "serious allegations of corruption."

As of 4 pm on Saturday, 1,959 PCSO outlets have been shut down across Metro Manila, according to the Philippine Natonal Police.

Who else may be affected? TUCP also wants PCSO operations to be brought back to normal soon so that sick indigents and those from poor sectors could continue to seek medical support and financial assistance sourced from PCSO funds.

Among the landmark measures partly dependent on PCSO returns is the newly implemented Universal Health Care Law. Government officials had said some P17 billion of the P257 billion needed would come from PCSO and the Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corporation. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.