MANILA - Less than 4 percent of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office's (PCSO) revenues are allocated for actual charity, the agency's officials confirmed in a congressional inquiry Tuesday.
Under the PCSO's charter, 55 percent of its revenues should be allocated for prizes, 15 percent for operational expenses, and 30 percent for its "charity fund."
But PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan told lawmakers that most of the charity fund has been gobbled up by "mandatory contributions."
"'Yun pong 30 percent nahahati po... including 'yung mandatory contribution namin which is more or less 40 percent of the 30 percent," Balutan said when members of the House Committee on Good Government inquired about the charity fund's alleged decline.
Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop pointed out that removing all deductions, only "12.9 percent out of the 30 percent" are left in the charity fund for the benefit of people seeking help.
This amounts to barely 4 percent of PCSO's total revenues.
"...[K]asi naalis na po yung deduction… out of the 30 percent ang pinakikinabangan lang po ng tao is 12.9 percent," Acop said during the hearing.
In 2017, the PCSO posted record-high revenues of P52.9 billion. Four percent of that sum amounts to only P2.116 billion.
Over the years, the executive and legislative branches enacted programs that sourced part of its funding from the charity agency that was established to shoulder costs for health and medical charity services.
For example, Republic Act No. 7835 or the National Shelter Program requires the PCSO to allocate 10 percent of the charity fund to the "Comprehensive and Integrated Shelter and Urban Development Financing Program."
Executive Order No. 357 also mandates the PCSO to allocate 5 percent of the charity fund for local government units.
Other "mandatory contributions" charged to the PCSO include allocations for the following:
- Philippine Sports Commission Program
- Commission on Higher Education
- Documentary Stamp Tax
- Shared Government Information System on Migration (SGISM) under the Department of Foreign Affairs
- Crop Insurance Program
- National Commission on Indigenous Peoples for the Ancestral Domain Fund
- Museum Endowment Fund
- Dangerous Drugs Board
Under the law, PCSO revenues should be allocated to "health programs and charities of national character."
"I-amend natin because most of these republic acts, executive orders, mandatory contributions are not health and medical related," Balutan said.
CUT FOR LAWMAKERS, POLITICIANS
Some lawmakers said the PCSO's charity fund is also shrinking due to allocations intended for lawmakers.
Acop said he received a P1,600 check from the PCSO, but had to return it as the charity agency did not specify guidelines for liquidation.
"Some of the congressmen have received checks from the PCSO. I received one check (in) 2017. I returned it officially to the PCSO. May natatanggap talaga 'yung iba," Acop said.
Misamis Oriental Rep. Henry Oaminal said he also received checks from the agency, but refused to accept it because of his stance against small town lottery.
House Committee on Good Government Chair Johnny Pimentel told the PCSO to submit the list of lawmakers who received allocations from the agency's charity fund.
PCSO Board Member Jesus Manuel Suntay said the checks were sent to district representatives as Executive Orders 357 and 357A mandates the agency to give a portion of its revenue for local government units that hosts small time lottery and other PCSO games.
Some lawmakers, however, argued that the PCSO management is at fault for charging mandatory contributions to the charity fund when it could have been deducted from the allotment for prizes.
"Why did you charge it to the charity fund? Binawasan mo 'yung tao, di ko maintindihan ang inyong management style," Acop told PCSO officials.
-- with reports from RG Cruz and Katrina Domingo