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Judge defies Duterte, issues TRO vs PCSO

Despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s plea not to impede government projects with restraining orders, Presiding Judge Maximo M. de Leon of Makati City has issued a Temporary Restraining Order  right on the day of the President’s State of the Nation Address stopping the P10.9-billion project of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office in modifying the equipment for its unified National Online Lottery System with a five-year contract.

De Leon of Regional Trial Court, Branch 143, issued the TRO filed by the Philippine Gaming Amusement Corp. against the PCSO even as Duterte pleaded with Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno to order the courts not to frustrate the priority projects of the government.

PGMC is owned by Berjaya, a foreign company from Malaysia allegedly backed by a former president.

Reports said there is also a possibility that De Leon will order a writ of preliminary injunction which allegedly was the real intention of PGMC.

Last Monday, in his Sona, the President denounced the “web of corruption” that continues to cover the judiciary especially in the TRO case against very important government programs that is “above board.”

“If there is a bidding, if it is regular, the court should or somebody else should not delay the process,” Duterte said.

He said that usually, losing bidders are the ones asking for a TRO. He even called on Congress to “find me a law” that can be used by government agencies to counter the TRO issued by the court against it.

The Makati court, which falls under the supervision of Acting Judge Rommel O. Baybay issued the TRO and on July 12,  lowered the writ of preliminary injunction against PCSO in relation to the same matter.

The TRO issued by De Leon is now available for 20 days in parallel with the process of PCSO’s bidding process for the modernization of its online lottery system.

De Leon’s TRO postponed the PCSO opening of bids for the project scheduled on July 27, 2017 with 17 local and foreign bidders, wherein PCSO expects more bidders from major gaming companies.

The project’s pre-bid conference was held on June 20, 2017.

Report said this is a huge blow to the PCSO amid its plan to modernize and improve the quality of its facilities to effectively mobilize more funds to support the people’s health from agency’s charity programs especially the poor ones in accordance with Duterte’s law to provide free medicines and patient’s hospitalization.

The PGMC contract with PCSO for Luzon will end on Aug. 21, 2018. The contract for Visayas and Mindanao held by the Pacific Online System Corp. will expire on July 31, 2018.

In the new modernization project, the PCSO wants to consolidate its online lottery system. But the PGMC insisted on its supposedly exclusive right of being the provider of the online lottery system of PCSO, which is yet to be resolved by the arbitral proceeding of both parties pursuant to the Interim Settlement (IS).

The PCSO said that there was nothing in the Equipment Lease Agreement (ELA) and the Amendment to the Equipment Lease Agreement (AELA) which says it will give exclusive rights to PGMC because its exclusivity is “repugnant with a government policy that prescribes monopoly power.”

 In a modern and a unified lottery system, the PCSO expects to save large amount in maintaining a 6-digit, (6D), 4-digit (4D), Suertres, Lotto and EZ2 Lotto games. 

Topics: President Rodrigo Duterte , Judge Maximo M. de Leon , Temporary Restraining Order , Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office , National Online Lottery System
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