By Wilnard Bacelonia

Senator Imee R. Marcos (PNA photo by Avito Dalan) 

MANILA – There should be no lotto draws if the whole lotto games system of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) will be looked into, Senator Imee Marcos said Friday.

The Senate Committee Games and Amusement resumed on Thursday its inquiry, which was presided by Senator Raffy Tulfo to determine and maintain the integrity of the PCSO lotto games, as well as to look into the status of its prize fund being remitted to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

“I’m very happy that they’re finally investigating it,” Marcos said, recalling that she filed January last year a resolution seeking to probe the systems of the PCSO and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.

Hangga’t hindi naipapaliwanag itong mga pangyayaring ito, itigil muna yang bola. Itigil muna yung e-lotto at yung mga ginagawa nila. Wala ng naniniwala eh at naaawa naman ako sa mga pumupustang mahihirap (Until these events are not explained, stop the draw. Stop the e-lotto and their system. No one believes anymore and I pity the poor bettors),” she added.

During the inquiry, Tulfo asked the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT-CICC) to study and look into the lotto games.

Drex Laggui of the DICT-CICC agreed, assuring that they can help through various digital forensic procedures and suggested that a negotiated audit engagement with the PCSO must be prepared.

“The DICT-CICC can also help provide the standards on secure gaming systems para next time po kapag sinabi ni BIR na pakita niyo lahat ng mga resibo namin (so that next time if the BIR asks for their receipts), the BIR can easily audit the correct earnings for the country,” Laggui told the panel.

PCSO general manager Mel Robles also agreed and assured that they are open to suggestions.

“We welcome that po kasi para sa kapanatagan din namin dahil kulang din naman kami ng expertise diyan eh (for our peace of mind because we also lack the expertise on that),” Robles said.

The investigation, Laggui said, might take six months which results will also be submitted to the Senate panel.

The PCSO serves as the principal government agency for raising and providing funds for health programs, medical assistance and services, and charities.

One of its key programs is the Medical Access Program, which is designed to augment the medical needs of Filipinos nationwide, particularly hospital confinement, chemotherapy, dialysis, and post-transplant medicines.

The program is funded by revenues from PCSO games nationwide.

268K indigents get P1.8-B medical aid in 2023

The PCSO, meanwhile, said it has released over PHP1.8 billion in medical assistance to a total of 268,538 eligible indigent beneficiaries nationwide last year under the MAP.

Among the beneficiaries were 31,485 individuals from the National Capital Region who received a total of PHP420 million, and 62,052 individuals from Northern and Central Luzon who were given PHP448 million.

In the Southern Tagalog and Bicol Region, about PHP371 million were released to 72,647 indigents.

In the Visayas, the PCSO under the MAP also assisted 54,209 individuals who were provided with PHP322 million in medical aid, while 48,145 individuals in Mindanao benefited from PHP283 million.

Through its mandatory contributions, the PCSO not only helps individuals in need of medical assistance but also provides funds to government institutions. (with Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)