PCSO disputes PGMC lotto exclusivity claim in Luzon
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office has disputed the claim of Philippine Gaming and Management Corp. (PGMC) that it holds the exclusive right to operate lottery outlets in Luzon, saying that any claim to geographic exclusivity is “erroneous.”
An official of the state lottery firm told the Inquirer that any contract exclusivity—as claimed by PGMC, the local unit of Malaysian leisure giant Berjaya Group—must be stated specifically in contracts.
“Exclusivity cannot be presumed, it must be provided clearly and unequivocally,” said the PCSO official, speaking on condition of anonymity as the case is still under litigation.
PGMC has sued officials of PCSO before the Makati Regional Trial Court, claiming that the latter violated the terms of their contract when it allowed rival lotto operator Pacific Online Systems Corp., which operates lotto outlets mainly in the Visayas and Mindanao, to do business in Luzon.
PGMC’s claim that it holds the exclusive right for the Luzon operations of the popular lotto games stems from the 2004 contract amendment inserted as a “whereas” clause, instead of in the contract’s main body, according to the official.
“The ‘whereas’ provision of the 2004 amendment erroneously states that (PGMC) has contractual exclusivity in providing the central computer system for the Luzon online lottery project until 2007,” the official said. “Assuming (for the sake of argument) that this was right, (this contract) has expired in 2007.”
Last week, PGMC asked the Makati RTC to cite in contempt officials of the PCSO for defying an order barring the agency from allowing Pacific Online from allegedly encroaching on its geographic franchise.
PGMC claimed that PCSO officials led by its chairperson, Margarita Juico, ignored the court order and, in effect, violated the exclusive equipment lease agreement. The injunction stemmed from PGMC’s petition last June questioning PCSO’s decision to allow Pacific Online to install and lease lottery equipment in Luzon.
PCSO has appealed the injunction issued by the Makati RTC while Pacific Online has filed a petition in the Supreme Court to allow it to proceed with the installation of lotto units in Luzon, saying the fight between PCSO and PGMC was affecting its economic interests.
Contacted for comment on the issue last week, PCSO general manager Ferdinand Rojas told the Inquirer that the issue “is now the subject matter in litigation.”
“PCSO is confident of its position, which will be advantageous to and in the best interests of the public, the agency and the government,” he said.
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