The Department of Justice (DOJ) Task Force on Special Cases said that Peryahan ng Bayan numbers game operation “is still duly covered by a valid and existing authority from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).”
The DOJ Task Force disagreed with the position of the PCSO that the continued operation of Peryahan ng Bayan numbers game is “unauthorized and illegal” after its Deed of Authority was terminated by its Board of Directors on March 2, 2016.
The resolution was issued on December 3, 2018, seven days before the NBI – Central Visayas Regional Office and its Bohol District Office conducted anti-illegal gambling operations on Peryahan ng Bayan collection and betting outlets operated by Globaltech Mobile Online Corporation in Cortes, Getafe, and Talibon for illegal gambling operations.
The NBI raids on Globaltech’s betting stations in Bohol netted 27 bet collectors after “bet busts,” similar to “buy-bust” operations against illegal drug pushers, were employed to entrap those manning the ubiquitous yellow booths of Peryahan ng Bayan.
The resolution was signed by Assistant State Prosecutors Amenda Garcia and Florencio Dela Cruz, Jr. and Associate Prosecution Attorney l Criselda Teoxon and was approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor (SDSP) Pedrito Rances, Officer-in-Charge, Office of the Prosecutor General.
According to the resolution, the continued reliance of the PCSO on an order by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 161, Pasig City dated October 13, 2017, denying Globaltech Mobile Online Corporation (Globaltech) motion for the issuance of a writ of injunction “is misplaced”.
The court merely resolved to deny the issuance of the writ of injunction to compel the PCSO to arbitrate even as RTC 161 directed the suspension of the notice of termination issued to Globaltech, according to the resolution.
PCSO terminated the deed of authority of Globaltech to operate STL in Bohol on February 16, 2017, and granted a deed of authority to Scorpio Games and Amusement Incorporated (Scorpio) as the sole authorized agent corporation for the PCSO Small Town Lottery (STL) on May 28, 2018.
The DOJ resolution stemmed from a complaint for illegal gambling filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against 14 employees of Globaltech operating a two-ball lottery using the numbers 1 to 38 to determine the winning combination which is similar to “jueteng”.
The DOJ dismissed for lack of probable cause the complaint against the 14 Globaltech employees arrested in simultaneous operations by the NBI Bulacan, Laguna, and Rizal District Offices on the strength of four search warrants issued by Regional Trial Court (RTC), Quezon City Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert.
The 14 Globaltech employees “cannot be considered as engaged in the illegal numbers game at the time they were arrested” because they were covered by a valid and subsisting authority and license from the PCSO, according to the DOJ Task Force on Special Cases.
According to documents obtained by the Chronicle, the NBI, an agency of the DOJ, received the resolution on December 5, 2018, at 5:00 PM but pushed through with their operation on December 10, 2018, on orders from their main office.
Sources, on condition of anonymity since they were not authorized to speak for the NBI, told the Chronicle that the resolution on the legality of the operation of Peryahan ng Bayan was still on the level of the prosecuting arm of the agency and could not be interpreted as the official position of the DOJ.
Retired Marine Major Manuel Fraginal, Sr., Chief of the PCSO Nationwide Inter-Branch Security Monitoring and Michael B. San Andres, President of Scorpio Games and Amusement Incorporated (Scorpio) “implored the assistance” of the NBI to conduct another round of anti-gambling operations targetting Peryahan ng Bayan.
The operation was green-lighted by Atty. Antonio Pagatpat, NBI Deputy Director for Regional Operations and was led by Atty. Rennan Augustus T. Oliva, NBI-Bohol District Office, Agent-in-Charge and Arnel Pura, NBI Executive Officer.
Atty Brian Pelandas, legal counsel of Globaltech for Central Visayas, told the Chronicle that the DOJ resolution will heavily weigh in their reply to the illegal gambling complaints filed by the NBI against their 27 arrested bet collectors.
The arrested bet collectors are out on bail with a clarificatory hearing scheduled on December 27, 2018, as directed by Margie C. Tan-Alvaro, Assistant Provincial Prosecutor and Investigating Prosecutor.
But Fraginal remained unperturbed over the recent DOJ resolution even as charity assistance to indigent patients suffered a 56% dip due to budgetary constraints and the unrestrained operation of illegal gambling.
Fraginal instead vowed to pursue an unforgiving drive to rid Bohol of illegal STL operations regardless of adverse court rulings maintaining that the PCSO has the sole authority to regulate all forms of lottery in the country.
The PCSO has yet to secure a favorable ruling on the alleged illegal termination of the deed of authority of their Authorized Agent Corporation (AAC) in the province.
RTC Branch 12 Presiding Judge Ofelia L. Calo granted on August 22, 2018 a writ of certiorari and prohibition to PF3 Games and Entertainment Corporation (PF3) directing the PCSO, Bohol Branch Office, Officer-in-charge (OIC) Roberto Pio Cinco to “cease and desist” from implementing the order terminating the deed of authority of the STL operator.
The court ruled that the termination order of the PCSO did not observe the requirements of due process which is the right to notice and hearing and it also failed to comply with the terms and conditions under the Deed of Authority that provides an arbitration clause in accordance with Republic Act 9285 known as the Alternative Dispute Resolution of 2004 in cases where disputes could not be settled amicably.
PF3 and Globaltech encountered similar problems in the remittance of their agreed Presumptive Monthly Retail Receipt (PMRR) that led to the termination of their Deed of Authority to operate STL in the province.
The court’s ruling on the PF3 is also similar to the recent DOJ Task Force on Special Cases resolution and the RTC Branch 161 decision which upheld Globaltech’s right to arbitration.
A provision for arbitration is provided in the Deed of Authority signed by PCSO General Manager Jose Ferdinand M. Rojas ll and Globaltech President Jose Gregorio R. Aquiling on April 2, 2014.
The arbitration provision states that if no amicable settlement is not reached, the dispute related to breach, termination or invalidity shall be finally settled by arbitration before any action shall be lodged before the proper court.
SMALL BET LURE
In Bohol, where “suertres” similar to “masiao” has a massive following Peryahan ng Bayan base its results on the winning three-numbers combination of the national draw of the PCSO with a minimum bet of one peso winning P500.00 compared to the P12 peso minimum bet in the local lotto outlets with a payout of P450.00.
Scorpio employs bookies or “ushers” reminiscent of the old masiao days to collect bets with a minimum of one peso and a payout of P400.00. However, two separate tickets are issued – one based on the results of the locally drawn lottery at their office in Barangay Manga, Tagbilaran City, and PCSO’s thrice- daily national draw. (Chito M. Visarra)