Philippine senator to grill state lottery official over $3.87M bribery claim

Philippine senator to grill state lottery official over $3.87M bribery claim

A lawmaker in the Philippines has started digging into the alleged attempt of the country’s “number one gambler” to bribe the chief of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

Philippine senator to grill state lottery official over $3.87M bribery claimOn Tuesday, PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan said government gambling consultant Charlie ‘Atong’ Ang dangled a monthly bribe of PHP200 million (US$3.87 million) in September 2016 in exchange for the full control of the country’s Small Town Lottery (STL) operations.

To shed light on his claim, The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that Senator Panfilo Lacson has summoned Balutan to the next legislative hearing on STL operations.

Lacson pointed out that Balutan first mentioned the PHP200 million as an estimated government earning if it took over the STL operations nationwide and not as a bribe during the January 24 hearing.

The senator, however, was taken by surprise when Balutan sang a different tune in last Tuesday’s congressional hearing.

“It looks like the story on the P200 million has been twisted. Now, it’s a bribe money,” Lacson told local reporters on Wednesday, according to the news outlet.

Ang, whom President Rodrigo Duterte described as the country’s “number one gambler,” has been tapped to help stamp out illegal gambling in the country and shore up the revenue of PCSO.

Since his appointment, Ang has repeatedly locked horns with Balutan and PCSO chief Jose Jorge Corpuz over who should be operating STL, a type of gambling regulating by government that seeks to replace illegal numbers game jueteng.

The gambler had earlier accused Balutan and Corpuz of underdeclaring revenue generated by STL operations, putting the government at a disadvantage. Both Balutan and Corpuz denied the allegations, claiming Ang just wanted to ease them out to gain control over the STL.

Lacson, for his part, had recommended the restructuring of PCSO since the agency was plagued by corruption. The senator said that charities supported by the state-run lottery lost PHP4 billion ($76.68 million) due to corruption.