Senate to check lottery donations to police-A A +A
Monday, July 18, 2011
MANILA (Updated 10:54 a.m.) -- Senator Teofisto Guingona III on Monday ordered a Senate panel to summon police officials to confirm that contributions from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) were received by local police departments.
During the resumption of the Senate investigation on alleged PCSO fund misuse, Senator Francis Escudero moved to have a Philippine National Police (PNP) representative and a resident auditor to appear at the next hearing after PCSO general manager Jose Ferdinand Rojas II said the office does not know if a 0.5-percent take from the Small Town Lottery (STL) were received by regional police offices.
Guingona, who is the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman, granted the motion and ordered the committee to send out invitations.
Rojas said the PCSO is mandated to give monthly donations to the Philippine National Police (PNP) from STL funds.
He said the PCSO gave checks to the PNP headquarters in Quezon City but said he did not know if the monthly donations from the STL have cascaded down to local units.
The Commission on Audit (COA) also admitted there is no audit mechanism to know if PNP got its share from STL revenue as mandated by law.
COA asked for two weeks to submit report on PCSO funds given to PNP.
"We will await your report and take this up again," Guingona said.
During the hearing, the PCSO also promised to "do better" in distributing ambulances after Escudero questioned the measly donations given to the country's poorest provinces.
Escudero noted that Zamboanga del Norte only got one ambulance while a wealthier province like Quezon received 18 donated ambulances.
The poverty rate in Zamboanga del Norte was 48 percent in 2009 according to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB).
Tawi-tawi, with a poverty incidence of 31.5 percent, and Northern Samar, with 41.7 percent, also got one ambulance each.
Escudero said this seemed to contradict a PCSO guideline to give poor provinces a priority in the allocation of donated ambulances.
PCSO chair Margarita Juico explained that the 221 ambulances they gave away recently were "leftovers" from the previous administration.
"We had to work with what was there already," she said, saying the requests and solicitation letters for the ambulances had already been processed and approved.
She said, however, that poor provinces will be the first to receive some of 300 more ambulances the PCSO expects to give out soon.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee scored former PCSO executives being charged with pocketing millions in government funds.
Rojas earlier said the previous PCSO board left the office with a debt of P3 billion that it is now paying off. He said the debt was incurred from overspending by the previous board. (Jonathan de Santos/Sunnex)