Don’t play with people’s money, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office told

THE chairman of the House Committee on Games and Amusement has called on the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to stop playing with the people’s money in light of the alleged financial and legal issues hounding 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 Paranaque City Rep. Gus Tambunting, the panel chairman, who led congressional hearings on PCSO.

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

Tambunting made this call after the committee hearings which he chaired discovered the financial issues facing the agency.

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

“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 P4 billion which could have been used to help the poor all across the country,” said Tambunting.

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

Tambunting found it absurd that the PCSO does not include accounts receivable in its financial statements and reminded the PCSO to make proper records of its finances.

Balutan was sacked by President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte over allegations of corruption.

But he denied he was fired, saying he resigned from his post.

Last December 18, 2018, during a joint committee hearing of the House committees on public accounts led by House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo “Danny” Suarez and games and amusements, Tambunting said members of the House questioned the PCSO’s decision to hire a consultancy firm for P46 million 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 two decades.

He added that his committee was not inclined to support the bidding out of a consultancy contract given that PCSO needs funds for charity.(RPP)