MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) assures that medical assistance to its existing beneficiaries will continue despite the termination of operations ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“This year is not a problem, actually. We can still sustain up to December 31 because there is already a fund for that,” assured Royina Garma, PCSO General Manager.
Cancer patient Gloria Morella still patiently waited outside the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) office located at the Lung Center of the Philippines compound to receive her guarantee letter which she needed to purchase her medicines.
Gloria has Stage 3 breast cancer that’s why she worries of the news about closure of PCSO gaming activities because it is through the PCSO that she is able to support her medications amounting to P42,000 monthly.
“Kung wala ang PCSO, saan na naming kukunin (Without PCSO where can we get the fund?)” she said.
But Garma said the agency has collections from January to the first week of July which they could work on in case the stoppage order on its gaming schemes becomes permanent.
According to data, the agency has been providing assistance to a total of 248,000 beneficiaries as of July 2019 under the Individual Medical Assistance Program (IMAP) amounting to P2.8-B.
The order, however, has its setbacks and Garma said the agency is expected to lose about P30-M to P50-M income per day with the closure of over 9,000 lotto outlets across the country.
Nevertheless, Garma assured that those who won the PCSO-hosted lottery will still be able to claim their prize because the agency already owes the amount to the rightful winner.
What worries Garma, she said, are the agents of PCSO outlets who are at risk of losing their jobs.
“Iyan po ang ginagawang appeal ng mga agents to us to at least consider daw ang employees nila, (That’s what the agents are appealing to us, to at least consider their employees,)” Garma said.
“Titingnan din po natin, (We will see what we can do,)” she added.
Based on the agency’s unofficial tally, about 120,000 individuals will lose their jobs due to the closure of PCSO gaming outlets.
The figure is just 10% of the total employees from all authorized operators of small- town lottery (STL) nationwide in addition to employees of 9,000 lotto outlets and other gaming schemes managed by the PCSO.
The PCSO is hoping that the President will change his mind once the agency has rectified its system. – with details from Harlene Delgado