Stop playing with the people’s money, PCSO told

A House leader on Monday urged the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office to be prudent in spending the money it raises through the bets placed by the people in its various games.

Parañaque City  Rep. Gus Tambunting, chairman of the House Committee on Games and Amusements, made the statement in light of allegations of irregularities in the agency.

“The PCSO must safeguard its revenues and must be more prudent with its finances because it is an important source of funds for the government’s programs for the poor,” said Tambunting. 

Earlier, PCSO general manager Alexander Balutan announced his resignation but Malacañang said he was fired by President Rodrigo Duterte over suspicions of corruption.

Last week, Tambunting’s committee conducted a joint hearing with the House Committee on Public Accounts, chaired by House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez of Quezon, on alleged irregularities at the PCSO.

Among the allegations raised during the hearing were the resale of Small Town Lottery contracts that the agency allegedly left unchecked.

Tambunting also cited a report submitted by the Commission on Audit for 2017 which showed that the PCSO failed to collect P4.049 billion from 71 of PCSO’s Authorized Agent Corporations which are the entities operating the Small Town Lottery. 

Tambunting added “After the hearings we conducted, it is clear the PCSO is not managing its funds well.” 

Tambunting said “PCSO should be held accountable for its failure to protect government interest and, more importantly, for its failure to protect the welfare of thousands of poor and sick Filipinos relying on its charity fund for their needs. That is 4 billion pesos which could have been used to help the poor all across the country.”  

In one of the hearings, when Tambunting asked the PCSO to submit a list of their accounts receivable, Balutan claimed that the PCSO does not formally keep track of accounts receivable as its financial statements are based only on actual sales. 

Tambunting said he finds it absurd how the PCSO does not include accounts receivable in its financial statements and reminded the PCSO to make proper records of its finances. 

During the December 18 hearing conducted by the House joint panel, lawmakers, questioned the PCSO’s decision to hire a consultancy firm for 46 million Pesos as part of its procurement for PCSO’s Nationwide Online Lottery System (NOLS) for Luzon. 

Tambunting said he believes the PCSO does not have to hire a consultant because it already has the experience in operating the NOLS for more than 2 decades. 

During the hearing, Tambunting said that his committee was not inclined to support the bidding out of a consultancy contract given how PCSO needs funds to support those in need. 

“It is imperative that this NOLS contract  should be bidded out! Its been 25 years and it is the longest unbidded contract,” said Tambunting.

Meanwhile, whistleblower-turned PCSO board member Sandra Cam on Monday downplayed the claim of her former boss, former PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan, that “some powerful people” were behind Malacañang’s decision to remove him from the agency.

Last Friday, the Palace said President Duterte was firing Balutan as he faced “serious allegations of corruption.”

But Balutan said over the weekend that he resigned because he was asked to do something that he “cannot stomach, and that ‘’powerful people’ was behind his ouster.

Cam, however, brushed off Balutan’s claim.

“Tell it to the Marines. You have to stick to the issue, punto por punto,” Cam told Balutan in a radio interview.

“The reason why you were fired is because you committed a lot of corruption. You are the father of corruption sa PCSO,” Can said.

Cam even dredged up her previous accusation that Balutan, a former Marine general, favored military officials in granting lottery operation permits.

“The ouster of Mr. Balutan will uncover lots of anomalies and corruption in the PCSO,” Cam added.

Balutan has denied the accusation, but Cam insisted that President Rodrigo Duterte should pursue legal action against the former official, adding that some PCSO insiders have sent her documentary evidence against him.

“The President has to overhaul the PCSO -- from top to bottom,” she said. 

Topics: Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office , Alexander Balutan , Sandra Cam , Nationwide Online Lottery System
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