By Aaron Recuenco
Policemen have started shutting down lotto outlets and betting stalls for Small-Town Lottery (STL) and other forms of gambling licensed by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) across the country.
This, after President Duterte declared that lotto and other PCSO-licensed games as illegal because of reports of massive corruption in the agency.
General Oscar Albayalde, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said that he already ordered all police commanders to close lotto outlets and other betting areas for various games.
“I have directed all Police Regional Offices nationwide to launch a massive crackdown against illegal gambling and arrest anyone who will continue to engage in illegal acts,” said Albayalde.
“Those businesses that continue to operate in connection with the franchises, licenses, concessions granted by the PCSO are hereby warned to cease and desist from engaging business, following the provisions stipulated in their franchises or face consequences under existing laws,” he added.
Albayalde led the closing of all lotto outlets in Baguio City.
In Metro Manila, Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, director of National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), told reporters that at least 523 lottery and other gaming outlets authorized by the PCSO were closed down by five police districts as of 12 p.m. Saturday.
“Most of them are lotto outlets,” Eleazar said.
Eleazar said his instruction was to make sure that not a single lotto outlet would be operational or converted into betting stations for other gambling, especially the illegal ones.
“As declared by the President, these games are already illegal so we are duty-bound to implement it. There was already an instruction from Chief PNP to implement the closure,” Eleazar said
Eleazar also instructed his men to properly explain to the owners of lotto outlets the reason why their establishments were being closed in order to avoid misunderstanding.
The Metro Manila top cop said most of the outlets were already closed when the cops arrived.
Eleazar disclosed that four bet collectors and an outlet supervisor were arrested in Quezon City on Saturday morning where at least 185 gaming outlets were shut down on Saturday noon.
He furthered that the arrested suspects were taking lottery bets when the police officers nabbed them.
“They will be referred before the City Prosecutors’ Office for violation of illegal gambling,” he said.
The suspects, Eleazar said, are now under the custody of the Regional Special Operations Unit.
LOOK: Some of the lotto outlets in NCR that were shut down as instructed by Metro Manila police chief Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, in compliance with President Duterte's order. (? NCRPO-PIO) | via @aaronrecuenco pic.twitter.com/zJcHR1U6ZC
— Manila Bulletin News (@manilabulletin) July 27, 2019
On Friday, Duterte announced that he will suspend the operations of all PCSO-licensed gambling while a thorough investigation was being conducted on allegations of corruption.
The Chief Executive also declared that he will not honor any court order that would prevent the closure of all PCSO games.
Duterte ordered both the police and the military to implement his order.
Albayalde also asked the public to report to the police any suspected illegal gambling activity in their communities. (with reports from Jhon Aldrin Casinas)