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PCSO chief defends P6.4-M party, but still in deep debt

Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) General Manager Alexander Balutan yesterday maintained that the P6.4 million used in his agency’s Christmas party was appropriate.

Balutan said that the party was meant to reward the employees for the hard work in reaching the record-high revenue last year.
“I think considering our current situation, with the prices rising, I think it’s the appropriate (party expenses),” Balutan told the House committee on good government chaired by Surigao City Rep. Johnny Pimentel.
“Come to think of it, what they did in one year, how many billions have they earned, so it’s a booster for the morale and welfare of our employees,” Balutan said.
Pimentel, however, said officials of the PCSO who were behind the approval of the P10 million cash advance that Balutan requested for the party based on the documents presented by PCSO board member Sandra Cam during the hearing could have violated laws.
“I see that there are violations of existing laws. There is never any provision that says you can make any cash advance, especially on this P10 million, to spend on the Christmas party,” Pimentel said.
The Commission on Audit (CoA) memorandum circular provides that P10,000 is the maximum in cash advances.
Pimentel also considered as a waste of government money the P16,389 that the PCSO allegedly spent for the thanksgiving Mass.
“The chair agrees that this is a waste of government money. I can see that there has been a violation of existing laws. First, you can’t use government money to give to the Church,” said Pimentel.
From P14 million, the budget for the controversial PCSO party was reduced to P6.4 million from the P10.6 million cash advances.
But Cam, the whistle-blower, said only P10.27 million out of the P10.68 million cash advances had been accounted for.
At the resumption of the hearing conducted by the House committee on good government, Balutan said the P6.4 million budget for the party is not extravagant as compared to the hardships of the employees in attaining the revenues of P52 billion for 2017 which was actually more than its target revenue of P30 billion.

It was Board member Sandra Cam who denounced the Christmas Party describing it as too lavish for an agency involved in charity works., who turned emotional yesterday, who complained about the lavish party.
Balutan however said while the original proposal for the party held in Shangri-La on December 19 was P14 million, they were able to reduce it to P6.4 million.
“I believe they have the right to be treated to some sort of reward after a year of hardwork, at least to experience to spend some time in an airconditioned venue. I believe they deserve that,” said Balutan.
“If we are to evaluate them, we would see the billions of pesos they have made possible for the agency to earn so it’s a booster for the morale and welfare of our employees,” he added.
Balutan further explained to the members of the committee that the amount is reasonable considering the higher cost of food and other expenses.
Cam tried to appeal on the emotions of the lawmakers as she claimed she had made sacrifices in trying to expose what she described as a lavish party.
She presented itemized expenses of the party which included P16,389 the PCSO spent for the thanksgiving mass held on the same day of the party.
At the same hearing, it was bared that despite the billions of pesos it earns annually, PCSO is still deep into the red with a debt amounting to P16 billion.
This was according to Charlie “Atong Ang” as he pointed out that it was the small town lottery (STL) that is losing large amount of PCSO revenues.
Ang is a suspected illegal gambling operator until he was tapped by President Rodrigo Duterte as a consultant of the PCSO.
Like Cam, Ang accused the PCSO as the one of the most corrupt agencies in the government.
Contrary to Balutan’s claim PCSO earned P52 billion last year, Ang said the agency has accrued losses of P16 billion since 2014.
Balutan, while refusing to comment on the debt, insisted on the figures he presented as PCSO’s earning last year, stressing that of the P52 billion, P15.7 billion came from STL.
Ang, who failed to produce evidence to substantiate his claim, added that the PCSO remitted .25 percent of the STL earnings to lawmakers as their share.
While some lawmakers denied receiving any share from the STL, Antipolo City Rep. Romeo Acop admitted receiving a check from PCSO amounting to P1,600 last month as a share from STL.
He however added he returned the check because he doesn’t tolerate STL in his district and because the agency did not specify how it will be liquidated.
Panel chair Pimentel asked the PCSO a list of congressmen receiving shares from STL.
House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said there should be no malice imputed on giving money to congressional districts since these were being used for charity projects.
“STL is being operated in our province. if there’s any province that can be used as a model for a successful STL operation its our province. I don’t deny that there is amount that’s being given to each congressional district…there should be no malice on the fact that certain amount was also given to the people for their needs like burial, medical and other assistance,” Suarez said.

2 comments

  • Catherine

    Nawala kasi yung illegal gambling dati ni Atong eh dahil sa STL, that is why he's criticizing it and also wants to control it. And I dont understand why he's the resource person in the senate hearing.

    Catherine Wednesday, 14 February 2018 13:44 Comment Link
  • Rico

    Should we believe Ang and Cam?...jeez
    .

    Rico Wednesday, 14 February 2018 09:36 Comment Link

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