MANILA, Philippines – While generating higher revenues in 2017 compared to the previous years, the amount that the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) was allocating for its charity fund has been dwindling, lawmakers said.
The PCSO generates its own fund and allocates it to three areas — 55 percent for prize fund, 30 percent for charity fund, and 15 percent for the agency’s operating expenses.
According to Antipolo Representative Romeo Acop, of the 30 percent supposedly for the charity fund, only around 13 percent actually goes to the poor.
“The problem is if you look at the fund allocation, paunti nang paunti ang pumupunta sa tao [the part that goes to poor people is declining],” he said at the hearing of the House committee on good government Tuesday.
The 30 percent is also the source of funds distributed to agencies and local government units, and congressmen.
Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Zarate said the share of some congressional districts on the charity fund was similar to a “pork barrel.”
“I’m disturbed, sa tingin ko kaya namamayagpag pa rin ang illegal numbers game . . . parang namimigay tayo ng [in my view, the illegal numbers game continues to thrive…it’s like we’re giving away] pork barrel,” he said.
“Malaki ang kinikita [Huge revenue is drawn], but at the end of the day, little goes to the poor,” Zarate added.
Republic Act No. 1169 or the PCSO Charter mandates the agency “to provide and raise funds for health programs, medical assistance and services, and charities of national character,” and these funds are generated from Lotto, Keno, STL (Small Town Lottery), and Sweepstakes.
According to its website, under the STL charity fund sharing scheme, revenues accruing to STL will be divided as follows: city or municipality, 10 percent; provincial government, 5 percent; congressional district, 2.5 percent; and PNP, 5 percent.
To effectively decentralize the use of charity funds, the proceeds of STL will directly reach the local government units. It will go to the municipal treasurer’s office. PCSO executed a memorandum of agreements (MOAs) with local government units on how to disburse the funds given to them via STL. The remaining 7.5 percent of the charity fund will go to PCSO, it added.
Acop said that in 2015, he received a cheque from the PCSO for is congressional district’s share in the STL revenues, amounting to P1,600, which he returned because there were no guidelines on how to spend it and how it would be audited.
Minority Leader Danilo Suarez admitted receiving his district’s shares from STL operations, but said “there should be no malice that a certain amount is being given to congressional districts.”
Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, committee chairperson, instructed PCSO chairperson Alexander Balutan to submit a list of congressmen who receive the share from STL.
At the hearing, alleged gambling lord Charlie “Atong” reiterated that the STL was “designed to fail” because it served only as a legal front for illegal gambling operations.
“Within nine years na nag-operate iyan nung panahon ni President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, tignan niyo ang sales ng STL less than P1 billion, pero ang actual sales talaga Luzon pa lang…ang laman po noon nito P200 million per day or P6 billion per month,” he said.
Balutan said P15.7 billion of the PCSO’s revenue was from STL.
Earllier, PCSO board member Sandra Cam wept when she was asked by AKO Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin about President Duterte’s statement clearing PCSO officials of any irregularity in the hosting of a Christmas party which Cam had criticized as lavished.
She said she has a marching order from the President, which she could not relay to everybody.
“Respetado ko po kung ano statement ng mahal na pangulo. Babantayan ko po ang bawat kilos ng [I respect the President’s statements. But I will watch every move on the] charity fund,” she said.