MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Saturday, July 27, began its crackdown on games managed by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), following the order of President Rodrigo Duterte.
"In compliance with the order of the President, the Philippine National Police chief General Oscar Albayalde has immediately directed all Police Regional Offices nationwide to launch a massive crackdown against illegal gambling and arrest anyone who will continue to engage in illegal acts," PNP spokesman Brigadier General Bernard Banac said in a statement on Saturday.
PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde led operations in drawing first blood as he shut down a Baguio lottery outlet on Saturday morning. His operation was followed by similar actions cops across the country, with initial reports coming from Metro Manila and Calabarzon.
Police closed down 743 out of the 757 lotto outlets in Calabarzon on Saturday. Of the provinces, all reported full compliance to the order except Laguna and Rizal that had a compliance rate of 89% and 97%, respectively.
In Batangas, 99% of the total 1,281 STL outlets in the province have been shut down, as well as all 97 Keno outlets. Cops also arrested STL agents caught in the act of collecting bets.
What ban? President Duterte on Friday ordered the closure of all gaming schemes managed by the PCSO, citing crippling corruption in its establishments.
"I said all gaming activities, gambling, that got their franchise from government through PCSO are, as of today, suspended or terminated because of massive corruption," Duterte said in a televised message late Friday night, July 26.
The order came months after Duterte fired PCSO general manager Alexander Balutan in March over "serious allegations of corruption."
PNP's warning: As it gears up for its operations to shut down the PCSO gaming operations nationwide, the PNP issued a warning to establishments covered by Duterte's order.
"Those businesses that continue to operate in connection with the franchises, licenses, concessions granted by the PCSO are hereby warned to cease and desist from engaging business, following the provisions stipulated in their franchises or face consequences under existing laws," the PNP said.
It urged the public to report "any suspected illegal gambling activity in their communities." – with reports from Tina Ganzon-Ozaeta/Rappler.com