MANILA, Philippines – Senator Nancy Binay slammed the involvement of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the shutdown of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) gaming operations, saying it has a "misplaced sense of priority."
PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde had ordered cops to crack down on gaming operations nationwide, following President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to suspend lotto, small town lottery (STL), and other similar activities due to corruption.
"Instead of wasting their time in closing down lotto outlets, bakit 'di nila pagdiskitahan habulin at hulihin ang mga nasa wanted list nila, o 'yung mga insidente ng patayan sa Negros?" said Binay in a statement on Sunday, July 28.
(Instead of wasting their time in closing down lotto outlets, why don't they go after and arrest suspects on their wanted list, or resolve the killings in Negros?)
"Sa totoo lang, offline na lahat ng lotto outlets at na-shutdown na ang main servers noong Biyernes (July 26) pa lang. Kaya, there's no point for police operatives to padlock non-operational betting stations that are already out of business. Medyo overkill at OA (overacting) na 'yun," added the senator.
(The truth is, all lotto outlets went offline and the main servers have been shut down since Friday. So, there's no point for police operatives to padlock non-operational betting stations that are already out of business. That's a bit overkill and OA.)
Lotto 'should've been spared'
In a separate statement on Sunday, Senator Panfilo Lacson said lotto should not have been included in the suspension.
"Lotto outlets should have been spared since there are no reports of revenue cheating as far as lotto operations are concerned because they are computerized and automated and therefore closely monitored – unlike STL where PCSO, for millions of reasons, has consistently resisted to make it more transparent and foolproof," said Lacson.
He added that "illegal jueteng merely masquerades as legitimate STL operations...whose kubrador (bet collectors) are armed with PCSO IDs to avoid arrest by the police who may be co-opted anyways."
Meanwhile, sought for a reaction to Duterte's order, Senate President Vicente Sotto III told reporters in a message on Sunday: "It can always open once the corruption is unearthed and cleansed."
Senator Lito Lapid also defended Duterte's decision, saying that the public should believe in the President because he has "the widest intelligence network."
"Sa halip na batikusin ang Pangulo, atin siyang bigyan ng pagkakataon na umaksiyon para ayusin ang nakikita niyang korupsiyon sa PCSO," Lapid said in a statement on Sunday.
(Instead of criticizing the President, we should give him a chance to take action and fix the corruption he is seeing in the PCSO.)
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano echoed this sentiment.
"Hindi agad natin maja-judge ang Pangulo kasi mas marami siyang impormasyon kaysa sa atin, mas marami siyang sources – formal and informal.... Pero hindi mag-o-order 'yung Pangulo ng ganyan kung hindi substantial 'yung corruption," Cayetano said in Zamboanga City on Sunday.
(We can't judge the President right away because he has more information than we do, he has more sources – formal and informal.... But the President won't issue an order like that if the corruption weren't substantial.)