International edition
October 20, 2021

Due to alleged funds misuse at the PCSO

Philippines: Senator urges privatization of casinos

(Philippines) The government should sell off its lottery and casino operations in the wake of alleged funds misuse at the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Senator Franklin Drilon said in a radio interview.


e explained that government should get out of gambling altogether and just regulate private gambling establishments. He said privatizing PCSO and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) would let the government take on a regulatory role in gambling.


"The government should not be directly involved in gambling operations. Leave that to the franchisee. The franchise holder will pay a definite amount to the government not based on sales but on the amount of the bid. That is the fee regardless or whether or not the franchise holder makes money,” Drilon said.


At a Senate hearing on the alleged misuse of PCSO intelligence funds, former PCSO general manager Rosario Uriarte admitted that funds meant for intelligence operations were diverted to other purposes.


She said the money was used to support the roll out of the Small Town Lottery (STL), a government alternative to illegal numbers games.


The STL program itself went under scrutiny last year over allegations that STL franchises were being used as a front by illegal gambling syndicates.


Uriarte said PCSO intelligence funds were also used to assist victims of calamities and as "blood money" for Filipinos imprisoned in Saudi Arabia.


She said the money was covered by a pro forma request but then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo knew what the money was actually spent on.


She also confirmed that Arroyo approved the conversion of P150 million into an intelligence fund five months before the 2010 presidential elections.


The former PCSO general manager failed to satisfy questions on how the actual intelligence operations were done. She said she was in charge of the operations but could not answer when pressed for details. She promised to tell senators more when they hold a closed-door meeting next Wednesday.


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