DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Bayan Muna Party-list, on Monday, dared President Rodrigo Duterte to sack officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) involved in alleged “massive corruption” or overhaul the agency, instead of stopping all of its gaming activities.
Last week, Duterte ordered the closure of all gaming schemes of PCSO affecting over 21,000 outlets nationwide.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate and Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares questioned the President’s order against PCSO, calling the move “unfair and illegal”.
“If the corrupt people involved are Pres. Duterte’s appointees then he should have sacked these officials and overhauled the Office. But what is happening now is that he is punishing everybody, including the people who rely on PCSO for help for their medical needs,” Rep. Carlos Zarate said in a statement.
“The question now is who will benefit from this uncharitable sweep operations?” asked the Davao-based lawmaker.
Since 2011, Bayan Muna has been pushing for an investigation and reforms in the PCSO, but their calls “fell on deaf ears.”
Last year, they filed House Resolution 1599 which sought to investigate alleged anomalies in the PCSO such as the P9.8 million funds spent for PCSO’s Christmas party at the EDSA Shangri-La Hotel on December 19; allocation of only P2 billion for the charity fund, out of P18 billion revenues from STL; only 15-20 percent of the actual revenues were declared by STL operators, and that 80 percent of these revenues are used to pay-off high-ranking PCSO officials; and alleged hiring of PCSO officials’ children as staff and consultants of the agency.
“But again, Malacañang did not do an overhaul of the Office and maintained its military appointees, just like now,” Zarate said.
“Just last SONA, Pres. Duterte said that his military and police appointees are not corrupt but the incidents in the BOC, PCSO, and other agencies are showing otherwise,” he added.
On the other hand, Colmenares stressed that what Duterte did is “illegal” and affects especially the poor who are relying on the agency.
“We hope that this can immediately be corrected because it is the poor who will bear the brunt of his order,” he said.
He also hoped that the stoppage of all PCSO gaming operation is not just “a shakedown that would pave the way for Chinese gambling interests or those close to Malacañang to enter the games and amusement sector to fill the vacuum that the PCSO left.” (davaotoday.com)