Updates on PCSO

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The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) is a unique government owned and controlled corporation. Its funds do not come from taxes but from the ticket sales of PCSO products such as lotto, lotto express (Keno), sweepstakes, small town lottery, Bingo Milyonaryo and instant lotto. Whatever money comes into its coffers becomes government money and, hence, must be taken care of extraordinarily.

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Most of its customers are ordinary people. Some are enticed by the cash prizes but many only want to help. For every peso paid to PCSO, 55% goes to the Prize Fund, 30% goes to the Charity Fund and 15% goes to the Operating Fund. Its savings also go to charity.

Although PCSO has various programs, its most well-known programs are the Individual Medical Assistance Program and the Ambulance Donation Program.

During the term of the previous administration, the daily budget allotted for medical assistance nationwide was P4 million. It first increased to P8 million under the present administration, later raised to P11 million and now stands at P16 million. Aside from a conscious and focused effort to curb corruption, the PCSO Board of Directors under the leadership of Chairperson Margie Juico sought to review, improve or amend policies, pilot new games for additional revenue and required current authorized agents to surpass targets.

Despite the 300% increase in the medical assistance budget, it seems it is still not enough. Lines are getting longer; more people are in need of help. Steps to make the procedure more efficient have been implemented and even recognized by the Civil Service Commission. The PDAF scam has really affected many beyond those charged with plunder. Because of the scrapping of the PDAF and in relation to this, the respective medical assistance programs of senators and congressmen, PCSO remains for most their only hope.

While an endorsement of any member of the PCSO Board of Directors or any political leader is not necessary or required for a request for medical assistance to be processed, it seems patronage is deeply ingrained in Filipino culture. I am aware and understand this very well. Deep inside, we feel more at ease, confident or comfortable when we know someone, if only to make sure that the proper procedure is followed.

When I was an elected local official and even in the performance of my functions as an appointed public servant, I saw how a tap on the back, a firm handshake or a sincere smile can ease the pain of a relative who has lost a loved one or is undergoing a personal crisis; can inspire some to move on, dream big and aim high; can boost the morale of those that need reassurance that government is there to serve them.

But of course, such gestures are not as effective as decisive and earnest action.

At my own office as a PCSO Director, we meet and encounter people from all walks of life. Since my own parents passed away due to fatal and debilitating diseases, I am familiar with what the patient and their families go through. It is never easy to listen to their accounts but as what my brothers and I have experienced ourselves, sometimes we just needed to tell our story.

With respect to the ambulance donation program, PCSO made an inventory of the ambulances it has donated in the past 5 years. Of the 80 provinces, 143 cities and 1,491 municipalities, around 20% of local government units that have not received any ambulance. Once these cities and municipalities are provided with an ambulance, all LGUs would be 100% covered.

It is interesting to note that the PCSO ambulance is something quite common and easily recognizable to almost everyone since time immemorial, and yet there are some 300 or so cities and ambulances that haven’t been given any. Admittedly, it is not easy and cheap to maintain a vehicle. For a 5th class municipality, the fuel expenses alone would create a big dent in the town’s annual budget.

However, the importance of an ambulance, health facilities and medical personnel, especially in far-flung areas, is undisputed. According to the University of the Philippines National Health Institute, 6 of 10 Filipinos die without seeing a doctor. On the part of PCSO, it is our vision to do what we can within our area of responsibility.

This is why I have made it my personal and official advocacy to check on PCSO ambulances I chance upon. One time, I saw a PCSO ambulance parked at a supermarket. According to the hospital staff (the ambulance was donated to a government hospital) carrying a plastic bag and about to board the ambulance, she bought candles to be used for a hospital activity. While the ambulance may have not been needed at the time they left the hospital, it should always be on stand-by because it is an emergency vehicle. It cannot be used for any other purpose.

The PCSO has its share of challenges but it has more than its share of successes, particularly this year as it celebrates its 80th Mabuhay ang PCSO! Anniversary.

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3 Comments

  1. victor m. hernandez on

    Congratulations, and yes there more that PCSO needs and can do to perform is mandate for the people. May the PCSO Board, and Management able to get more support from the present administration and from the public to support it fund raising program. Best wishes.

  2. When i just read 6 out of 10 filipinos die without seeing a doctor makes my skin shiver. I remember the agonising death of my mother & it will haunt me to the day i die & to think of so many people here who must die in excruciating pain saddens my heart more than i can say. So when i read of any scam or anything illegal done that takes money from these poor soles who need it i feel such stong anger & hatred towards these scum people. I am not a religous man & i would show no mercy to these who deprive the poor of even just the basic medical needs. I just hate thinking of their suffering as i know my own mother who was very strong & complained little throughout her life just couldnt stand this pain & had to be druggeg uncocious to be free of the pain yet these poor people are there suffering with no relief, their families will also be riddled with guilt in not being able to help them in any way. This could happen to any of us but the rich can afford the pain killing medicines so will suffer so much less than the poor. I hope they can step back & think of that once in a while as i have it in my head every single day.

  3. Madam, how do we know that there are real jackpot winners in every lotto draw? It is easy to announce that there are winners but there is no way for the bettors to verify if this is true or not. The names & addresses of winners are not publicly revealed for security reasons w/c is valid, but in the same manner it is here where the element of doubt begins. For example, it will be announced that there is 1 winner in a draw but in actuality there is none & the people within the agency will be the ones to claim the price. It’s either hati-hati na sila or the money goes to their gods.  The bettors maybe will not mind if all of monies go to charity. But what if our suspicion is true? Or in some cases, if the jackpot price is bigger, PCSO will declare there are 2 or more winners but in reality there is only 1 who truly hits the jackpot. Hinahati nila ang tama ng legitimate winner. I’m a regular lotto bettor & I noticed what seems to be a pattern in w/c the jackpot is being hit. Unlike before when jackpot prizes are reaching hundreds of millions, now parang mayron na silang ceiling. Ang nakakainis pa, they doubled the price of each ticket.