LEGAZPI CITY – The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) should ensure a more equitable distribution of its allotment after issues relating to fund misuse and unfair allocation were discovered in the agency.
Speaking in today’s Senate inquiry into the PCSO fund mess that centers on the vehicles and cash allegedly given to Catholic bishops allegedly close to the previous administration, the senator said the country’s premiere charity institution should come up with strict and clear guidelines on how funding will be equitably and judiciously distributed among areas where assistance is really needed.
“Based on these discoveries mostly culled from Commission on Audit (COA) reports, the PCSO is used somewhat as a pork barrel by the past sitting president, favoring only a selected few. The PCSO is meant to service health programs, medical services and charities of national character, meaning it is totally inclusive of all Filipinos in need of assistance and not only exclusive to those who fall on the good side of the sitting president,” Escudero pointed out.
Escudero said that with the new PCSO administration pushing to clean the house, this upstart should be coupled with a strong dynamics of equitable distribution of funds utilizing existing systems. He also asked the PCSO to provide the guidelines on how decisions on medical assistance and grants are made.
“We can use the census and our labor force survey. Why is it that we are able to identify the extent and magnitude of poor families by areas? The PCSO can use this for targeting to be able to reach the most number of people in the provinces too and extend its services,” the senator said.
At the course of the hearing, Escudero asked PCSO officials the manner and equity of their fund distribution, and PCSO officials admitted that out of the 79 provinces in the country, it only has 29 offices located nationwide.
The senator said this should not be the case anymore as it is again a reminder of the “Imperial Manila” syndrome where most of the services and grants are accessible only to the people in the metropolis.
“The poor and sick people are not concentrated only in certain parts of the country. We have them all over the country. I would like to believe that the 29 offices of PCSO nationwide have pre-identified the poorest areas where fund allocation and disbursement is most needed, like the ARMM and majority of Mindanao,” Escudero explained.
He said a dynamic system is partly a matter of being able to allocate to the right areas and performing post, and checking if assistance was indeed distributed. “The PCSO must rely on a matching system for it to be able to prioritize or at the very least have a notion of where charity must be distributed,” he said.