By Rainier Allan Ronda and Sheila Crisostomo, August 1 2019; Philippine Star

Image Credit to Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Some P250 million in revenues were lost following the suspension of lotto games of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) starting Friday.

PCSO general manager Royina Garma explained that the state lottery generates an average of P60 million in revenue per day.

“We lost P250-million lotto revenue since our operations were stopped. That figure is only for lotto, the other games are not included,” Garma told a press conference yesterday.

Garma thanked President Duterte for lifting the suspension order on lotto.

“We will follow the directive of our President that it will be only the lotto games that we will resume,” she said.

Garma said the sudden direct intervention of the President on the PCSO’s operations had been a blessing in addressing the concerns over the operation of other games.

She said the reported anomalies in the agency’s small town lottery (STL) operations were her primary concern.

“The STL program is our biggest concern that needs to be addressed that the PCSO needs help with. We need the help of the Office of the President,” Garma said.

“There were contracts where we were challenged. And we cannot do this alone, without his (President’s) help or intervention now,” she added.

Garma said the President’s intervention had helped in solving some of the problems in the agency.

“And I want to speed things up because the public cannot wait. The President has only three more years to go. And I think we can do more if everything will be smooth-sailing and speedy,” she said.

“There are many programs that he wants implemented so we need revenues,” Garma said.

Garma, however, declined to discuss the corruption issues facing the PCSO, saying she was leaving it to investigators while assuring full cooperation in the probe.

“Corruption is a vast subject for discussion. For me, I will leave that to the investigators,” she said.

At the press conference, Garma explained the lifting of the suspension on lotto came after the evaluation of the PCSO revealed there is nothing irregular in the operation of the state lottery.

She said Malacañang approved the PCSO’s evaluation results on the lotto games.

Garma said they were able to convince the President to lift the suspension order after finding the lotto “transparent and clean” in its operations and was the most profitable game of the PCSO.

“The first one allowed was lotto. This was after we studied everything about lotto and learned that it is very transparent, and there are safety nets placed in its process. That is why we immediately asked President Duterte to return it,” she said.

As for the other games, Garma said the suspension order still stands.

“The STL and Keno operations are still suspended. Also included is the selling of the ‘Scratch-It’ tickets,” she said.

President Duterte on Tuesday night lifted the suspension of lotto games, but the suspension on the STL, as well as the Keno and Peryahan ng Bayan (PNB), was retained.

The games given authority by Malacañang to operate once again are Lotto 6/42; Mega Lotto 6/45; Super Lotto 6/49; Grand Lotto 6/55; Ultra Lotto 6/ 58; 6-Digit Game; 4-Digit Game; Suertres and EZ2.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the suspension of lotto games had minimal impact on the implementation of the universal health care (UHC) program.

“It’s not that big but of course, any amount in billion pesos will help PhilHealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corp.) and DOH (Department of Health) expand the primary care benefit package,” he said.

Duque said there has been an agreement that the PCSO will infuse some P3 billion every year for the UHC.

Under the agreement, the PCSO would be contributing P1.5 billion to the UHC for its initial year of implementation.

Duque added the other P1.5 billion will be used to pay the pending payables of PCSO to hospitals where they issued guarantee letters for patients needing financial support. – With Sheila Crisostomo