Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
The recent revelations that detailed just how easy it is for government officials to plunder the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office are indeed disturbing.
When an influential member of the Church wrote the President then that he wanted a brand new 4x4 luxury vehicle for his birthday, it was the PCSO that came up with the money, no questions asked. When certain public officials needed ambulances that could help endear them to their constituents, all they had to do was ask, and if they asked the right people, the PCSO would produce the ambulances. For everything else, there was probably the dubious PCSO “intelligence fund” that amounted to P325 million in three years even if the agency is neither involved in military or police activities, a fund that former PCSO general manager Rosario Uriarte was free to spend without fear of audit nor accountability. And, to top it all off, where else but in the PCSO can a promotions manager make an estimated P1.5 Billion in kickbacks?
When the PCSO was conceived in 1954, it was originally meant to be the principal government agency for raising and providing funds for health programs, medical assistance and services, and charities of national character. Nobody then must have thought that it would become the milking cow of corrupt government officials who would take advantages of the loopholes presented by its charitable intentions.
The ease with at which the PCSO was practically plundered means that the present administration will have to embark on a thorough review of the way things have been done, not only to discover more anomalies, but also so that safeguards to prevent such uncontrolled spending can be installed. These safeguards may hamper the charity work of the PCSO, but we have to ensure that the money it gives away actually goes to those who actually need it instead of those who simply want it and are more than willing to take it.
If those loopholes and opportunities for plunder cannot be plugged, then it may be high time that the government considers closing the PCSO down, especially if those who are benefiting from it most, cannot even be considered as charity cases.*