Making Lotto Games More Transparent, Credible

IN a bid to provide quality services to its clientele and to make the state-run lottery more transparent and credible, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) now adheres to international standards.
The agency successfully passed all the necessary requirements to secure a certification from the International Standards Organization (ISO).
PCSO officials have formally received the ISO 9001:2008 certification from the third-party auditor TUV Rheinland Philippines at the PCSO Head Office, Conservatory Building in Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City.
During the ceremony, TUV Rheinland Managing Director Arwen Loveres commended the top management for its support and commitment to PCSO in obtaining the ISO certification.
Loveres said the challenge now for PCSO is to maintain the established Quality Management System (QMS).
The ISO certification, according to PCSO Chairman Erineo “Ayong” S. Maliksi, will not only benefit PCSO employees but also its clientele.
PCSO Vice President and General Manager Atty. Jose Ferdinand Rojas 2nd said the certification provides integrity and credibility to draw procedure and prize claims.
“It strengthens the assurance of the public that the game is very transparent and is very credible,” said Rojas adding that PCSO spent three years in obtaining the ISO certification.
The significance of PCSO’s ISO certification
Rojas explained the certification assures the public that PCSO Lotto games are conducted according to international standards.
“Bettors can be confident that whenever they play Lotto, it is a game that has undergone quality checks for its processes in line with the agency’s Quality Management System,” he said.
The ISO certification’s scope includes the conduct and management of online lottery procedures and processing of prize claims amounting to P5,000 and above as well as the support processes involved.
The departments that underwent the audit include gaming and technology, information-technology services, data security, accounting and budget, human resources, general services, assets and supply management, and corporate planning.
Aside from PCSO’s commitment to provide quality services for its clientele, Rojas said the move is also pursuant to Executive Order no. 605, series of 2007.
The law requires “all departments and agencies of the Executive branch, including all government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) and government financial institutions (GFIs)” to adopt a QMS.
The law also enjoins state universities and colleges and the other branches of government—the legislative and the judiciary—as well as local government units to develop their “ISO Quality Management Systems and pursue certification.”
The law was enacted nine years ago but it was only until the Aquino administration that it was strictly implemented, especially in the case of GOCCs under the Governance Commission (GCG) for GOCCs.
According to Rojas, GCG set as one of the PCSO’s 2015 targets the requirement to obtain its ISO certification for gaming processes, giving it a heavy weight of 10 percent.
GCG has also set a 2016 target for PCSO to obtain certification for its charity assistance-related core and support processes.
Rojas said this is a challenging target because to be included in its scope are the processes and procedures for requests for assistance not only at the head office in Metro Manila and the satellite office at the Lung Center of the Philippines, but also at the 50-and-counting branches of PCSO nationwide.
“We would also like to look at the agency as a government institution which has a high trust rating and credibility with the Filipino people, he added.
Journey to ISO Certification
The activities toward certification had begun a couple of years ago, with certain personnel of the PCSO undergoing trainings and workshops to learn about ISO and how to develop a QMS specific to the agency.
“It was a long journey for the PCSO, but we met the target on time, even garnering praise from the certifying body’s auditors for some aspects of the PCSO QMS that were particularly noteworthy, such as the agency’s
ISO-related documentation,” said Rojas.
The agency was recommended for ISO certification on December 18, 2015, after it successfully hurdled the two-day second-stage audit conducted by TÜV last December 17 and 18, 2015.
On Dec. 3, 2015, PCSO hurdled the first-stage audit of independent auditors John Francis Faustorillo (lead auditor), Lei May Maza, Eleanor Tan and Hilario Capili.
“It received the green light to proceed to second-stage audit on Dec. 17 and 18,” said Rojas.
A two-day second-stage audit of gaming-related core and agency support processes was then conducted.
At the closing meeting on Dec. 18, Rojas said the auditors gave PCSO four positive findings and 17 opportunities for improvement, understandable considering that this is the first time that PCSO has implemented ISO standards.
“It was an interesting and eventful journey for the agency, whose personnel negotiated a steep learning curve to familiarize themselves with ISO standards and apply them to the core processes of conduct and management of Lotto draw and prize claim operations,” he said.
Gaming sector assistant general manager Conrado Zabella was named the agency’s deputy quality management representative, who guided the PCSO ISO Technical Working Group that facilitated and coordinated the process for the entire agency.
Rojas said PCSO has to maintain its QMS and further improve in the future.
“Our kababayan can be assured that the PCSO is continually improving its processes for frontline and support departments to provide the Filipino people with the highest standards of service according to the agency’s mandate,” he said.
He likewise expressed hope that the PCSO Branch Operations Sector and Charity Sector will also be able to receive their ISO certification this year.
“The move to obtain ISO certification is aligned with the administration’s priority direction toward the professionalization of the civil service and the improvement of operations and service delivery in the fulfillment of mandates, duties and responsibilities,” he said.
Increasing Medical Assistance Beneficiaries
One of the mandates of PCSO is to provide augmentation of the needed medicines to qualified beneficiaries most especially to the underprivileged members of the society.
During the six-year stay of Rojas at PCSO, the number of individuals granted medical assistance by the agency has been increasing continuously from 71,212 in 2010 to 249,761 in 2015. This gives a total of 894,889 individuals.
“We were able to increase the amount of medical assistance and the number of our kababayans who benefited from the increase of our sales from our gaming activities, he said.
He said they are also looking at more ways to make the agency’s charity assistance more efficient to make “our deliverables more closer to the Filipino people.”
Increasing PCSO Revenues
To beef up PCSO’s revenues, Rojas said they are exploring for more number games.
“We are always in the pipeline of researching and accepting gaming proposals in order to enhance our present gaming activities,” he said.
He also said that Lotto Games provided more revenue to PCSO and it is increasing every year.
From P2.63 Billion in 1995, Lotto sales jumped to P28.93 Billion in 2015.
Lotto Games include Lotto 6/42, Mega Lotto 6/45, Super Lotto 6/49, Power Lotto 55+10, Grand Lotto 6/55 and Grand Lotto 6/58.
Other PCSO’s game numbers include EZ2, Suertres, 4-Digit, and 6-Digit.
At the same time, Rojas said the number of winners and the amount of payouts also increased.
For the 10 number games, the number of winners in 2015 was pegged at 16.34 Million with a total prize of almost P11 Billion.
Rojas attributed these achievements to the joint and concerted efforts of PCSO employees, management and its various stakeholders and gaming partners.
As the agency’s revenues keep on pumping up, Rojas said the assistance being provided by PCSO is also increasing.
“Our plans will be really to expand and to enhance our gaming activities so that it can increase our gaming revenues and in order for our charity fund to also increase,” he said.
Because of this, Rojas appealed to the public to continue patronizing PCSO’s number games.
“Palagi sana nating tangkilikin ang produkto ng PCSO maski na anong gaming activity dahil sa bawat piso ng pagtangkilik nila awtomatikong 30 porsiyento niyan ay napupunta sa ating mga kababayan sa pamamagitan ng tulong medical,” he said.