PGTW: PCSO not part of PSF

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 24 October 2013, Thursday

PCSO not part of PSF

With intense public scrutiny brought to bear on government disbursements, the media have been hopping and bopping to come up with content that will satisfy the public thirst for information.

Various news items and columns have centered on the PDAF and the Presidential Social Fund since both issues broke out, but at least one statement being bandied about is untrue – that the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office contributes to the PSF.

This misimpression has gained a tenacious hold, reinforced by columnists and reporters who did not even reach out to the PCSO for confirmation.

Even some congressmen were misled. At a hearing of the Lower House Games and Amusements (G and A) Committee last Monday, Committee Chairman Rep. Elpidio F. Barzaga Jr. and other congressmen present were surprised to learn not a centavo from PCSO has gone into the PSF.

“PCSO must reiterate to the public that they do not give any funds to the PSF,” said Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo.

PCSO does contribute to certain government agencies through their founding charters. These payments, termed “mandatory contributions,” are made to diverse bodies responsible for a gamut of activities.

Among them are the Commission on Higher Education, National Museum, National Book Development Board, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Crop Insurance Corp., National Endowment Fund for Children’s Television, and many others.

The Presidential Social Fund is not among them.

Mandatory contributions are taken from the PCSO’s Charity Fund, which, as allocated by law, is 30 percent of the agency’s revenues. For the rest, 55 percent goes to the Prize Fund for games, and 15 percent to agency operations. (PCSO does not receive anything from the National Treasury for salaries, compensations, or other operational expenditures.)

In 2012, the Charity Fund totaled P9.86 billion. Of that amount, 41.46 percent – almost P4.1 billion- went to mandatory contributions. From January to June 2013, from the P4.84 billion Charity Fund, 59 percent – P2.87 billion – has already been released to various agencies.

Several lawmakers at the G and A hearing last Monday were astounded that nearly half of the PCSO’s fund for medical and healthcare assistance and charities of national character, instead of going to individual patients and institutional beneficiaries, instead supports government agencies that have nothing to do with PCSO’s mandate.

PCSO runs several significant social programs. Foremost is the Individual Medical Assistance Program (IMAP), that gives financial assistance to patients for their medical bills. In the first half of this year, P1.84 billion in approved requests is earmarked for hospitalizations (37.1 percent), dialysis treatments (25.78 percent), and chemotherapy sessions (12.62 percent), with the rest going to medicines, laboratory and diagnostic procedures, hearing aids and transplants, and other forms of treatment.

Through the Institutional Financial Assistance Program (IFAP), hospitals, clinics, orphanages, homes for the aged, and the like are given endowment funds for the medical care of their beneficiaries.

The Ambulance Donation Program gives ambulances to requesting municipalities and government hospitals nationwide.

Other special programs donate medicines and medical equipment such as diagnostic machines, and hold medical missions, out-patient consultations, and ambulance conductions of patients who otherwise cannot afford the service.

Via PCSO’s Quick Response program, relief is sent to victims of national calamities such as Typhoon Sendong, the landslide in Compostela Valley, the earthquake in Bohol, the conflict in Zamboanga, and the like. Victims of such events who are being treated in public hospitals may have their hospitals bills shouldered by PCSO upon their request and if qualified.

The public may also not be aware that a government GOCC such as PCSO pays taxes. From 2009 to June 2013, PCSO has remitted P18.4 billion for various kinds of taxes.

The public’s warm and generous support of Lotto and other PCSO games enables PCSO to sustain all these social programs, none of which include contributing to the PSF.

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