MANILA, Philippines – President Aquino yesterday took back control and supervision of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) from the Department of Health, which was the arrangement during the time of his predecessor, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Under Executive Order 14, Aquino said there is a “need of placing back to OP (Office of the President) the control and supervision over PCSO” to “ensure the effective implementation of his social agenda, and to effectively facilitate as well the health services and charity programs” of his office.
“One of the main objectives of the OP is to enhance the health services and charity programs to the public as well as to immediately respond to calamities, disaster relief and emerging illnesses,” a portion of the order read.
This developed as the jackpot for the 6/55 Grand Lotto on-line lottery draw of the PCSO last night reached more than P600 million, the biggest jackpot in the country’s lotto history.
In the single-page order, Aquino said that he has the power to transfer functions of line agencies by virtue of the Administrative Code of 1987, which authorizes the President to “transfer agencies to the OP from other departments or agencies.”
Arroyo, who is now a Pampanga congresswoman, issued in November 2004 Executive Order 383, transferring PCSO’s jurisdiction to the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and in August 2005 EO 455 that transferred this over to the health department.
Under PCSO’s original charter (RA 1169), however, such power belonged to the OP.
PCSO, which takes charge of the country’s lotto operations, is the principal government agency in charge of raising and providing funds for health programs, medical assistance and services, and charities of national character.
With the official transfer, the direct control and supervision over the PCSO is automatically transferred from the Department of Health to the OP.
PCSO website temporary shut down
The official website of the PCSO www. pcso.gov.ph had temporarily shut down since last week after the agency transferred to a new office building, even as bettors trying to access the PCSO website increased since the jackpot of the 6/55 Grand Lotto on-line lottery draw breached P500 million.
In a notice to the public, the PCSO said the agency’s website that releases lotto draw results on the Internet and also provides email service will temporarily be offline due to the transfer of the PCSO MIS Data Center to their new office at the Philippine International Convention Center, CCP Complex in Pasay City.
PCSO officials, however, assured the public that the nationwide lotto network that connects all lotto terminals to the PCSO main office is not affected and is operating normally.
People trying to access the official PCSO website to get the results of the Grand Lotto draw have increased since the jackpot breached half a billion pesos.
“We shall try our best to make the lotto game results search engine, IMAP follow-up and email service online return to normal as soon as possible when our Data Center is fully operational in our new office at the PICC,” the statement said.
The website also releases the lotto draw results, including the number of winners of each of the various lotto draws.
PCSO sources said more bettors have placed their bets for the Grand Lotto draw last night after the jackpot was estimated to hit P620 million after nobody got the winning combination 22-25-17-50-19-37 in last Monday’s Grand Lotto draw with a jackpot of P584, 899, 925.20.
The jackpot of the Grand Lotto last night was the biggest in the history of the PCSO’s on-line lottery that has triggered a nationwide frenzy, with more people joining the long lines at lotto outlets nationwide.
The winner of the Grand Lotto could take home the full amount of the over P600-million jackpot tax free, a PCSO official said.
“If you win you can get your winnings to the last centavo,” the source said.
PCSO chairman Margie Juico said in a recent television interview that they are planning to pay in installment the jackpot prize.
Lotto players have opposed the proposal of Juico.
The Grand Lotto draw is now the most popular in the country since the on-line lottery game was launchedin 1995. The other lotto games include the Regular Lotto 6/42, Mega Lotto 6/45, Super Lotto 6/49, and the EZ2 games.
Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone filed a resolution directing the House committee on games and amusements to investigate “the rationale of the system, play rules and conduct of the mega lotto draws, and its widespread effect on people to compulsively play the game, and recommend appropriate legislation.”
“The unimaginable jackpot prize and wide media coverage have resulted in record number of people playing the mega-lotto,” Evardone said.
“Widespread compulsion to play, including people who normally would not engage in gambling, tends to run counter to the PCSO vision to uplift the quality of life of the Filipino people.”
He said not one ticket sold has matched the winning number combination after 83 lottery draws, with almost every possible pick of number combination being sold.
“It appears that, at any given draw, people are now compulsively playing a game in which the winning number combination may be ‘unachievable’,” he said.
Evardone said the PCSO should explain how this no-winner phenomenon has come about.
The PCSO must disclose the total amount of revenue generated by ticket sales, he said.
“The PCSO must set a limit to the jackpot prize at stake at a maximum amount, say P500 million, and if such maximum amount is not won or forfeited, it must be donated to orphanages and charitable institutions,” Evardone said.
House Deputy Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, however, did not agree with the proposal to put a cap on the jackpot.
“The higher (the prize), the better. I think it’s not just the prize, it’s the excitement,” Suarez said, as he admitted he has been playing the lotto in the last two weeks. With Paolo Romero, Perseus Echeminada - By Delon Porcalla (Philstar News Service, www.philstar.com)
Reposted From Delon Porcalla of Philtar.com