Duterte Administration

Duterte fires PCSO general manager Alexander Balutan for corruption

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has fired retired Marine general Alexander Balutan as general manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) for corruption, Malacañang spokesman Salvador Panelo announced last night.

“The Palace confirms that President Duterte has terminated the services of PCSO general manager Alexander Balutan on his present post due to serious allegations of corruption,” Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo did not mention the particular offense that Balutan committed which prompted Duterte to remove him from his post.

Duterte has been monitoring the income of the PSCO, as well as from STL, and noted how this was way below the expected income, the official said.

Balutan’s spokesman Florencio Solmerin said the PCSO chief voluntarily resigned

“General manager Alexander Ferrer Balutan has opted to resign from his post for personal reasons,” Solmerin said in a text message.

Balutan’s firing came a day after he claimed the PCSO suffered a drop in sales of lotto tickets by as much as 40 percent due to smaller jackpot amounts and higher ticket prices.

Balutan sought to downplay the substantial sales drop, saying this was a result of the low jackpot amounts in the aftermath of the phenomenally high number of lotto jackpot winners last January.

It was learned that lotto sales last January were also 30 percent lower compared to last year’s take for the same month.

Arnel Casas, assistant general manager for gaming sector, said low jackpot prizes and the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law on ticket sales and prizes contributed to the sales slump.

Balutan earlier reported lotto revenues were mainly “jackpot-driven,” with bets increasing when the jackpot prizes of the different lotto products – the Regular Lotto 6/42, Mega Lotto 6/45, Super Lotto 6/49, Grand Lotto 6/55 and Ultra Lotto 6/58 – are increasing.

“Sales for the month of February declined by 39.19 percent, registering only P1,587,785,710 sales compared to the same period last year with P2,611,320,180. Of all Lotto products, Ultra Lotto 6/58 had the highest drop by 60.11 percent with only P166,254,440 sales, compared with P416,886,040 sales last year,” Balutan said.

Lotto 6/42 slumped by 32.08 percent to P141,526,380 from P208,376,100 sales last year; Mega Lotto 6/45 down by 29.03 percent to P151,347,480 from P213,281,080; Super Lotto by 28.32 percent to P146,748,500 from P204,748,760; and Grand Lotto 6/55 by 17.22 percent to P166,990,240 from P201,736,720.

Balutan stressed that if the jackpot prize is big, the bets will increase.

“We are expecting sales to pick up in the succeeding months,” he added.

As for digit games, 3 Digits registered the highest decline of 51.97 percent to P342,821,210 from P713,824,280; followed by EZ2 by 28.36 percent to P421,705,720 from P588,685,380; 4-Digits by 22.74 percent to P32,463,880 from P42,022,850; and 6-Digits by 17.60 percent to P17,927,860 from P21,759,320.

Keno sales also declined by 50.37 percent to P219,643,880 from P442,580,610.

Last January, Balutan reported P1,930,393,950 in overall sales for Lotto and digit games, which is 30 percent lower compared to the same period last year.

Contracts of gamers

But the official who revealed the firing of Balutan said the President had noted the renewal of contracts given to certain entities that are allowed to operate certain games.

“There were contracts awarded 25 years and these already expired but what the PCSO did was that they did not put the contracts into bidding but what the PCSO officials did was just renew these contracts,” the official said.

The same official said the income of the PCSO is keenly monitored by the President. He said

Duterte himself could not help but get mad at the situation that paved the way for Balutan to be given the boot.

“What is surprising is the money they declared is not that much when these are supposed to be much higher in terms of income,” the official said.

Malacañang reiterated its call to all government officials to abide by the President’s standards against corruption.

“We hope that this will serve as a stern warning to all government officials and employees that there are no sacred cows in the current administration, especially when it comes to serving the Filipino people with integrity and loyalty,” Panelo said.

Panelo warned government officials who fail to observe the standard will “inexorably suffer the harsh and punitive consequences.”

“The campaign against corruption, like the war on prohibited drugs, will be relentless and continuing until the last day of the President’s term,” Panelo said.

A member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1983, Balutan drew controversy over the PCSO’s lavish Christmas party in 2017 costing P6 million.

PCSO board member Sandra Cam revealed the  controversy but the President sided with Balutan.

Balutan, a former Marine general, was appointed PCSO general manager in September 2016.

Balutan also figured in a controversy when he defied the order of then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo barring government officials and personnel from testifying at congressional inquiries without her clearance.

Balutan and his then superior Brig. Gen. Francisco Gudani appeared before the Senate and testified over the alleged cheating in Mindanao during the 2004 presidential elections.

source: philstar.com



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