The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office has rejected the request of its board member and alleged jueteng bagman turned whistleblower Sandra Cam for 1,700 sacks of rice and groceries for a supposed Christmas gift-giving program for voters in Metro Manila.
PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan said he rejected Cam’s request because the agency’s charger does not allow this unless areas to be aided are under a state of calamity.
“The request which she endorsed to me was not even presented for discussion in a board meeting. Where would I get these sacks of rice and groceries to give the residents of Metro Manila?” Balutan said in a statement.
Balutan said Cam endorsed a letter dated Dec. 15, 2017 to the GM’s office after she was appointed to the PCSO board. Shortly afterward, Cam attacked the agency’s board with an allegation of a “lavish” Christmas party.
In the letter, Cam asked for 5,000 sacks at 10 kilos each for 10,500 families for the 16 cities in Metro Manila and the town of Pateros.
Meanwhile, Balutan found an ally in his bid to strengthen the agency’s Small Town Lottery program in new Interior Department officer-in-charge Eduardo Año.
In a radio interview on Saturday, Año vowed to use his military intelligence background as former Armed Forces Chief of Staff to crack down on illegal gambling such as jueteng amid continued operations of perceived “enemies” of the government’s STL in the grassroots.
“We had talked with the PCSO General Manager Balutan, and that is what we will help, the STL, because that’s the one authorized [by the government], it’s the one paying taxes and the one that pays what should be paid to our government,” Año said.
With Balutan and PCSO’s help, Ano said the DILG will intensify its intelligence operations to identify where illegal gambling operations are still rampant.
“These [illegal] numbers games, some of our local government officials are also supporting and even protecting this, even our policemen are involved. But we will show no mercy to them,” he said.
Año said the police should exert more effort against those who tolerate and protect illegal gambling.
The GM stressed that Cam, a new government appointee, should study the PCSO Charter first before taking any step “as if she is above the law.” He said Cam was “creating havoc” within the agency with unfounded and baseless corruption allegations.
Republic Act 1169 established the PCSO as the principal government agency for raising and providing funds for health programs, medical assistance and services, and charities of national character.
Earlier, Balutan said the PCSO must be insulated from politics.
“As Chief Executive Officer and General Manager, I will not allow anyone to use PCSO for her or his political ambitions,” the former Marine major general warned.
Cam ran for the Senate in 2016 but lost, and reports have said she plans to run for another elective position in 2019.
For almost three weeks now, the PCSO said Cam and her close friend, gambling lord Charlie “Atong” Ang, have been “ceaselessly attacking” the agency through the media “with unfounded and baseless corruption allegations.”
Balutan said Cam and Ang have long wanted to control the STL, which was created to rival jueteng and has produced P15.7 billion in revenues for the government in 2017, from just over P4 billion a year in previous administrations.
Thirty percent of the STL revenues help fund free medical services such as payment for hospital bills, dialysis and chemo treatments, among others, of more than 356,000 patients of indigents from far-flung areas in the country.
Balutan said the STL has been killing illegal numbers games such as jueteng, which used to collect a rough estimate of P2.37 billion a month.
“Our STL with 92 approved Authorized Agent Corporations [AACs] but only 84 operating is providing the Duterte government a whopping P2 billion a month. This is what the tandem of Ang and Cam want to break and later control the STL nationwide, as jueteng is dying a slow death,” Balutan said.
The GM also laughed off Cam’s new “theatrics” of bomb and death threats against her.
“She can’t throw anything at us anymore, so she’s spouting gibberish to continue her running story in the media. We’re ready to face her in the proper forum,” Balutan said.