Ombudsman suspends PCSO’s Pangasinan head pending probe for allegedly disobeying order to stop STL

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The Ombudsman has ordered the six-month preventive suspension of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office’s (PCSO) branch manager for Pangasinan pending investigation for allegedly disobeying an order to stop small-town lottery (STL) operations in the province.

In a recent 5-page order, the Ombudsman said it found “sufficient basis” to suspend officer-in-charge (OIC) Editha Romero for now while her administrative case for grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty remains pending.

The order came “after an initial evaluation of the administrative complaint and its supporting documents.”

“Preliminarily, it is established by evidence that the guilt of respondent Romero appears to be strong and which, if the charges of Grave Misconduct and Gross Neglect of Duty are duly proven, would warrant the penalty of removal from the service,” read the order.

The complaint was filed by David Diciano, president of Speedgame, Inc., the operator of STL operations in the province which was embroiled in an intracorporate dispute.

Although Diciano replaced Speedgame’s former president Edward Aguilar in August 2018, the latter failed to register the new officers’ deeds of assignment of shares and stocks and his group continued to control the operations of STL betting outlets in Pangasinan.

On February 1, 2019, then-PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan ordered Romero to stop Speedgame from further operating in the province. Three days later, he ordered her to stop dealing with Aguilar.

However, Diciano claimed Aguilar’s STL operations continued through Facebook Live.

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