PCSO urged to help replenish dwindling gov’t funds

A vice chairman of the House committee on games and amusement on Wednesday asked the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to look into the possibility of launching well-secured and fraud-free interactive mobile lottery games to replenish President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s dwindling funds in the fight against coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19).

Ang Probinsyano party-list Rep. Ronnie Ong, panel vice chairman, underscored the importance to generate funds needed to provide support for the millions of Filipinos who lost their livelihood because of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).

Ong said the PCSO should step up to the plate and contribute in generating funds to help shore up the government's capacity to respond to the raging health crisis.

Although the PCSO really has no choice but to shut down its land based lottery activities such as the Sweepstakes, Scratch-it and Small Town Lottery, Ong said it can continue to conduct business by interactive mobile lottery games.

He said the PCSO could deploy interactive and mobile apps where people can play Sweepstakes, Scratch-it and other forms of lotteries.

The House leader said the PCSO could do transactions using various payments schemes such as credit cards, Paypal and virtual wallets like G-Cash, SmartCash, PayMaya and WeChat.

Ong said these interactive and mobile lottery games can go a long way to raise the much-needed cash for the government to support its relief efforts for those who can hardly provide for their daily needs while they are on ECQ.

"Interactive and mobile lottery games can actually be very timely at this time because of the ECQ.  Many people are in their homes doing nothing. Instead of wasting money on some online games to fight boredom, they can actually support PCSO lotteries as their way of contributing in the war effort against this unseen enemy," said Ong.

Ong said that government is losing at least P3.75 billion per month or P125 million per day since PCSO decided to stop operations in the light of the ECQ that was declared last March by President Duterte.

It is estimated that the PCSO is making at least P15 billion to P16 billion every quarter from various lottery operations, said Ong. Plus the absence of regulated and legal operations have allowed illegal and unregulated gambling to multiply and prosper, according to him.

"Even if we can only generate half of the P3.75 billion monthly revenue of the PCSO, we will be able to provide adequate relief of a lot of communities especially in areas which are on full lockdown.

Let us be realistic about the ECQ. Most of the people take their chances outside their homes because they have no food to eat," said Ong.

However, Ong stressed that the PCSO must ensure an adequate top-rated network security safeguards to make sure that their interactive and mobile platform is safe and secure from all possibilities of hacking and other online fraud.

Ong said this should be urgently considered by PCSO as the market may not recover back even if the ECQ is lifted due to market loss to the illegal and grey market operators. At the very least, Ong said funds are being generated rather than none at all.