By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Calls to resume the operations of lotto in the county have snowballed in the House of Representatives.
Two more House leaders manifested their support to the reopening of lotto outlets not only to replenish the government’s depleting war chest against COVID-19, but also to generate livelihood for those who lost their income during lockdown.
“Of course, I will support the reopening of lotto. It will not affect the income of the less privileged plus it will provide our government the much needed revenue,” Deputy Speaker and ABONO partylist Rep. Conrado Estrella III said in a text message.
“This will also open sources of income for many Filipinos because of the reopening of the outlets,” he added.
Bataan 1st district Rep. Geraldine Roman, chairperson of the House Committee on Veteran Affairs, asked the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to ensure that necessary health security measures will be put in place before the operations of lotto resume.
“The idea is good as long as we strictly observe safety protocols,” she said.
“I just hope that already impoverished families will not gamble away the little money they have on lotto. That money should be used for food, health or ideally a small home-based business,” she added.
The PCSO already requested Presidente Duterte to allow them to resume lotto operations which have been suspended for three months.
PCSO General Manager Royina Garma, in a letter to President Duterte, formally sought the resumption of lotto operations.
She said the minimum health standards needed for the resumption of the outlet, including the protocols on physical distancing are being prepared.
She said the wearing of face masks both by the bettors and lotto agents will be required and that a barrier between lotto agents and bettors will be installed to avoid close contact.
Garma said they prohibit those aged 21 and below and 60 years old and above to serve as lotto agents.
She had earlier said they were preparing for the digital system of betting, but it is still subject for approval.
Southern Leyte lone district Rep. Roger Mercado, Quezon City 2nd district Rep. Precious Castelo, and Kalinga lone district Rep. Allen Jesse Mangaoang had rallied behind the resumption of lotto operations in the country, recognizing it would help augment the government’s depleting resources against COVID-19.
Malacañang said the IATF may consider the possibility of bringing back lotto operations, citing the PCSO as an important source of revenues to fund the government’s fight against COVID-19.