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PCSO officials face raps over alleged illegal commission on e-lotto deal

Plunder and graft complaints have been filed against top officials of the state-run Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and executives of a private company over an alleged anomalous deal involving E-Lotto, a web-based betting platform.

Complainant Richard Rillo of the Filipinos for Peace, Justice and Progress Movement alleged that private entity Pacific Online Systems Corporation (Pacific Online) got a 14% commission out of its E-Lotto deal with PCSO in violation of PCSO’s technical guidelines for E-Lotto and contrary to Pacific Online’s E-Lotto pitch, which provides for implementation of the E-Lotto on an experimental test-run basis at no cost to PCSO.

The respondents named in the complaint were the following:

  • PCSO General Manager Melquiades Robles
  • PCSO Board of Directors Chairman Felix Reyes
  • PCSO Director Jennifer Liongson-Guevara
  • PCSO Director Janet De Leon Mercado
  • Pacific Online Chairman Willy Ocier
  • Pacific Online President and Chief Executive Officer Jackson Ongsip
  • Pacific Online Board Member Raul de Mesa
  • Pacific Online Director Tarcisio Medalla
  • Pacific Online Director Henry Ocier and
  • Pacific Online Director Armin Santos

Rillo said that under PCSO’s technical guidelines for E-Lotto, the private contractor, in this case Pacific Online, should provide certain services, such as a call logger management system for the Help Desk operations, including data recording media, telephone systems, headsets, accessories, and all costs related to the subscription to private cloud services, at no cost to PCSO.

“The MOA (memorandum of agreement between PCSO and Pacific Online), in no uncertain terms, entitled Pacific Online to receive an unconscionable and outrageous payment of 14% commission based on the generated daily sales, paid on a weekly basis,” the complaint read, referring to the MOA that was inked by the two parties in August 2023.

“Otherwise stated, Pacific Online proposed E-Lotto on an experimental test-run basis at no cost to PCSO. Negotiations ensued whereby PCSO officials were duty-bound to uphold the time-honored principle of public office being a public trust. However, instead of requiring Pacific Online to comply with its undertakings at no cost to PCSO, PCSO officials disregarded Pacific Online's contractual commitments and PCSO’s own Technical Guidelines of the web-based application betting platform by agreeing to pay commissions to Pacific Online,” it added.

Rillo said that by proceeding with the MOA, PCSO officials dishonored the sanctity of their oath as public servants to see to it that the interests of the government are duly protected.

“They entered the MOA, a contract or transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government, through manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence, causing undue injury to the government and the Filipino people, and gave Pacific Online unwarranted benefits, advantage, or preference,” the complaint read.

Rillo accused the respondents of pocketing the commissions “at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines.”

The PCSO denied the allegations, saying the E-Lotto deal with Pacific Online was approved by the Office of the President.

Robles, in a separate statement, said PCSO has been conducting E-lotto pursuant to authority from the OP in 2021, “given that it has sufficient authority and is in a better position to evaluate and approve its technical guidelines on betting platforms for the minimum technical requirements for PCSO games.”

“The OP guidance, being an act of the executive, remains valid until amended, revoked, or replaced by its issuing authority,” Robles said. 

He added that the operation of the e-lottery follows the advice of the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC), PCSO's statutory counsel, which also determined that the August 30, 2023 MOA with Pacific Online was justifiable. 

Robles said they would file counter-charges against those behind what he described as a ''smear campaign.''

“We will not take this matter sitting down. We will unmask those behind this dubious complaint and file appropriate counter-charges against them,” he said. —VBL, GMA Integrated News

Tags: PCSO, e-lotto