Lawmaker wants PCSO probed for irregularities, lavish bash

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The PCSO logo art.

MANILA, Philippines – Congress should look into the various controversies hounding the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), saying the charity funds involved could run up to several millions, Bayan Muna partylist Representative Carlos Zarate said.

“From the extravagant Christmas party celebration to the irregularities and alleged corruption in the small town lotteries operations and the minuscule allotment of only P2.2B for the charity funds out of its P18 billion earnings – these issues are certainly not minor and should, instead, be investigated,” Bayan Muna partylist Representative Carlos Zarate said.

“While these PCSO officers and executives are fighting for their respective turfs, the indigents whom they are supposed to fully serve are suffering,” he added.

According to Zarate, the PCSO Charter mandates that 30% of its earnings should be earmarked for charity funds.

“If the reported earnings is P18 billion, then the supposed allotment for charity funds should be P5.4 billion. Now where did the money go?,” he said.

“The PCSO’s mandate is supposed to be for charity, but, it appears that, then and now, it is just being used as a milking cow of its officials” he added.

The agency responsible for raising and providing charity funds figured in a controversy after spending around P6 million for its Christmas party.

Sandra Cam, one of PCSO’s recently-designated board members, earlier called for an investigation into what she called was a “grandiose” spending for the party.

PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan said the agency’s spending for its party was aboveboard and can be justified.

Balutan has issued a statement branding Cam – a close friend of gambling lord Charlie “Atong” Ang – a “loose cannon” and warned her “not to destroy the agency before President Rodrigo Duterte with unfounded corruption allegations and to use the agency’s employees Christmas gathering to grab power.”

“Ms. Sandra Cam is now creating havoc at PCSO,” Balutan said, adding that Cam “lashed out against her fellow officials at the agency in her daily program at a radio station (dwIZ) and gave interviews to televisions, other radio stations and newspapers by peddling confidential board documents not yet approved and authorized for public consumption by the board as a collegial body.”

Balutan retorted that Cam was “misinforming the media and the public and revealed that only P6.5M was spent.”

For his part, PCSO Chairman Jose Jorge Corpuz said the more than 1,580 employees with their families “deserved” the fellowship after a year of hard work.

Corpuz said “Cam’s brouhaha cannot hide the achievements of PCSO now being enjoyed by the Filipino people specially the indigents who need medical assistance under the Duterte government.

“We might be hitting up to P51 billion or it could be more this year as compared to only more than P37 billion in 2016. It’s all because we intensified our President’s battle against illegal numbers game. And I think that is one thing, particularly the STL [Small Town Lottery], Sandra Cam wants to destroy in favor of a notorious gambling lord,” he said.

He and Balutan said they are open to any investigation and disputed Cam’s allegations of corruption in PCSO.

Balutan and Corpuz said Cam had long wanted them to be booted out from PCSO.

“Her ultimate goal is to replace me or the chairman and usher her longtime friend Atong Ang into the PCSO systems to control STL nationwide,” he said.