PCSO releases P10-M calamity fund for ‘Urduja’ victims

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PCSO's logo, in Philippine Star file photo illustration.

MANILA – The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), a corporate agency under the office of President Rodrigo Duterte, is releasing on Wednesday P10 million from its yearly calamity fund to be used to aid the victims of typhoon “Urduja” that battered some provinces in the Visayas.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) is monitoring the rising number of casualties. According to reports, over 40 persons are now dead and more than two dozen missing.

Badly hit by landslides and flashfloods are the provinces of Samar, Leyte, and specially Biliran which accounted for majority of the fatalities and missing persons.

PCSO Chairman Jose Jorge Corpuz said the board will tackle at its regular meeting on Wednesday the release of the funds for the typhoon victims.

“We initially approved the immediate release of P10 million to buy for medicines and water for the typhoon victims. We have a yearly calamity fund of P100 million approved by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for natural and man-made disasters. For 2017, we’ve more than P95 million left. So we can use that for the typhoon victims,” PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan said.

Balutan said he will also recommend that the board forego a portion of the budget for the Yuletide fellowship of PCSO employees to buy medicines, water and that can be used also to defray the hospitalization expenses of individuals injured from the typhoon.

“We immediately come to the aid of calamity victims and this is our priority as a charitable government agency,” Balutan said.

Balutan recently led the opening of the PCSO’s branch office in Biliran to bring closer to the people Duterte’s free medical services and health programs.

Besides Biliran, Balutan said there are also PCSO branch offices in Tacloban City, Leyte; Calbayog City in Western Samar; Maasin City, Southern Leyte; and Catarman, Northern Samar where people in dire need can go to seek for financial medical assistance.

“I have instructed all our branches in the typhoon-affected provinces to open their offices 24 hours a day to cater patients and deliver medical services to the affected residents,” he said. Similar instructions were givento all other branch offices in the Visayas to come to the aid of calamity victims.

Balutan said PCSO has been coordinating with the Office of the President to inform him about the availability of funds the government can use to buy for medicines and hospitalization of typhoon victims.

Meanwhile, Corpuz and Balutan welcomed the arrival of former Quezon City congressman Jesus Emmanuel “Bong” Suntay and Sandra Cam into the PCSO board.

Suntay and Cam, a lawyer and a jueteng whistleblower, respectively, were appointed by the President.

The other member of the board is former Davao city village chief Marlon Balite.