Cam recommends transfer of STL operations to Pagcor

Maris Federez   •   August 26, 2019   •   1122

PCSO board member Sandra Cam

Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) board member Sandra Cam believes that corruption in the Small Town Lottery (STL) in the country has not stopped despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to lift the suspension of its operation under certain conditions.

“It’s just like a legalized jueteng,” Cam said.  

This prompted the official to recommend the transfer of the operation of STL to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor).

She added that it is still safe to just have the lotto operation remain under the PCSO to help rid the agency of corruption.

 “Ibigay na lang sa PAGCOR because gambling naman talaga ang PAGCOR and STL is a gambling [Give the STL to Pagcor because it is really gambling],” Cam added.

Cam also said that she is ready to name the high-ranking officials who are also members of the PCSO board of directors who are involved in corruption in the agency on Tuesday’s scheduled Congressional hearing.

Cam insists that some former officials of the PCSO were also involved in the corruption in the STL operation.

She added that several generals were given permits to operate STL even if they did not pay cash bonds to PCSO.

“I’m not against the military. I’m not against the PNP. I have a lot of friends there. But I don’t like the way the mistahs of General Corpuz and General Balutan na parang ginawa nila, ang PCSO is a private company [who seemed to have made PCSO a private company],” Cam said.

Meanwhile, Cam said that she is also ready to undergo the lifestyle check that the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) will conduct to all PCSO board members brought about by the corruption allegations.

“Ang masasabi ko doon sa mga critics ko [All I can say to my critics is] that I have a 500 million (worth) resort, you can go — I will invite you for free. You check out my place, it’s just a kubo [nipa hut]. Ang aming mga houses doon, cottages are made of kubo [Our houses, cottages there are made of nipa hut],” she added.

Cam further said that she is willing to resign if the corruption issues inside the PCSO will not be resolved within three to four months. (from the report of Harlene Delgado) /mbmf

PACC to file raps against 36 PhilHealth execs

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 6, 2020

The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) is set to file raps against 36 Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) officials next week amid the mass corruption issue in the agency.

According to PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica, they are preparing to file administrative charges and has recommended the dismissal of said officials. Belgica, meanwhile, did not identify the names of the involved officials.

Ipapasa na po namin sa Ombudsman next week, those cases na we believe are airtight cases na. Mga naimbestigahan na namin. Definitely po madadagdagan pa iyan as the investigation proceeds (Those we believe are airtight cases, we will submit it to the [Office of the Ombudsman] next week. There will definitely be more cases as the investigation proceeds),” he said.

Belgica claims that PhilHealth’s poor IT System had given way to corrupt officials to do anomalous activities. He also said corruption is done in various regions across the country which is similar to the ‘Pork Barrel Scam’ system.

So every region na nagta-transact ang mga ospital in different places, doon nagkakaroon ng areglo, doon nagkakaroon ng connivance. Ang bulk ng pera ng PhilHealth na nawawala, doon lumalabas (So in every region where hospitals do their transactions that’s where connivance happens. The bulk of PhilHealth’s money goes there),” he said.

Meanwhile, the PACC and Senator Christopher ‘Bong’ Go recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte to form a task force that will head the investigation on the PhilHealth corruption allegations.

PhilHealth has already denied the allegations saying the claims have no proper basis or evidence. -AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

PCSO official shot dead in Mandaluyong

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 30, 2020

A board member of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) has been gunned down in Mandaluyong City on Thursday afternoon (July 30).

Reports say PCSO Board Secretary Wesley Barayuga was gunned down by an armed man on a motorcycle at the corner of Calbayog and Malinaw Streets in Mandaluyong City. His driver was also shot and is currently being treated at a hospital.

CCTV footage showed the suspect shooting from the passenger side. Authorities are currently conducting an investigation. AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

Senate probe into PAGCOR’s alleged lobby for POGO’s quarantine exception sought

Robie de Guzman   •   May 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Opposition Senators Francis Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros are calling on their fellow lawmakers to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation into the alleged lobbying of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to exclude Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) in the COVID-19 quarantine.

In a joint statement, Pangilinan and Hontiveros said they have recently filed Senate Resolution 396 after PAGCOR allowed POGOs to resume partial operations, subject to strict conditions, purportedly to boost government revenues amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The senators said that the gaming regulator’s “actuations in lobbying for an exception in favor of the POGO industry threaten to unduly put the health and well-being of the Filipino people at risk by undermining the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).”

“Even going by the official estimate, allowing more than 50,000 workers in the online gambling industry to return to work represents a substantial exception to the ECQ rules,” they said.

PAGCOR chairman Andrea Domingo earlier argued that licensed POGOs should be allowed to resume operations as these are part of the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector.

BPOs have been allowed to operate amid the quarantine period.

Domingo earlier assured that before POGOs were allowed to resume partial operations, they would have to meet safety and health requirements.

But Pangilinan and Hontiveros both expressed apprehension that the partial reopening of POGO operations could “reverse the efforts put in place to stem the spread of COVID-19”as there is no assurance that POGOS will follow the Department of Health’s guidelines on physical distancing, wearing of masks, and frequent handwashing and sanitation.”

The IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) have also rejected that POGOs are part of the BPO industry, citing four key differences:

  • BPO companies are registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) or the Board of Investments, while POGOs are registered with PAGCOR,
  • the offshoring nature of POGOs are allegedly because they are unable to practice their betting or gambling functions in their respective shores,
  • IT-enabled jobs BPO companies create are of much higher value, requiring a range of technical, domain, and soft skills, and
  • BPOs come to the Philippines to leverage off the country’s human capital, like strong English and technical skills, customer service orientation, malasakit, and ability to adapt to foreign cultures. On the other hand, majority of POGO staffing comes from foreign labor brought into the country to support their operations.

According to IBPAP, POGOs are not part of the annual IT-BPO Headcount and Revenue report, which in 2019 ended with 1.3 million direct employees and $26.3 billion in revenues, the senators said.

PAGCOR also argued that revenues from POGO operations can be a significant source of funds for the government’s COVID-19 response.

It also said that operators are ordered to pay all tax obligations up to March 2020 before they will be allowed to resume operations and only registered workers cleared in COVID-19 rapid tests to report back to work.

But Hontiveros and Pangilinan pointed out that during a Senate hearing in February 2020,

the Bureau of Internal Revenue revealed that POGOs failed to pay the government an estimated P50 billion in withholding and franchise taxes in 2019.

The senators said the uncollected taxes of POGOs could be a source of additional government funds for COVID-19 response.

“[But these] taxes need to be collected regardless of the industry’s status of operations during the community quarantine,” they said.

The senators also pointed out that the resumption of POGO operations will have minimal impact on the country’s economy.

They cited records from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) showing that the industry only accounts for 0.04% of the domestic economy.

Earlier this week, a group of House lawmakers filed a bill seeking to have POGOs declared illegal by prohibiting the operations of any offshore gaming by any means or device within Philippine territory.

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