MANILA, Philippines - Former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chairman Manoling Morato lashed back at the agency's incumbent management, headed by Margarita Juico, who accused former President Gloria Arroyo and her allies of misusing PCSO funds that led to the pile-up of its debt.
Morato said all PCSO transactions were aboveboard and went through the scrutiny of the agency's approving departments and the Commission on Audit (COA).
Morato also dismissed chairwoman Juico's claim as only propaganda "to make herself appear indispensable to President Aquino so her term will be renewed."
"She's lying. I challenge her to take her allegations to court," Morato told ANC in a phone interview.
"This is old issue. They are ego tripping, falsely charging us... They want to hit President Gloria, that is the bottomline. Nagsi-sipsip si Margie kay President Aquino."
Morato bristled at Juico's claims that the PCSO board under Arroyo left the agency straddled with P4 billion debt, and used funds meant for charity for operations.
Under its charter, the PCSO is required to set aside 55% of its revenues from the sale of sweepstakes and lotto tickets for prize money, 30% for charity, and 15% for operating funds. The charity fund is used exclusively to finance and support health programs, medical assistance and services and/or charities of national character.
PCSO general manager Jose Ferdinand Rojas II also said that directors of PCSO got kickbacks from million-peso contracts with favored groups and dubious medical claims.
Morato, who was director of PCSO during Arroyo's time and chairman during President Fidel Ramos', denied there was any "comingling" of funds.
"Not true. [We keep] three separate books: one for the prize fund, another for charity, and another for operating expenses. Where is the 'comingling' there?"
He said the P4 billion was "our running account in all hospitals nationwide. At least, buhay ang mga pasyenteng tinulungan namin nung panahon namin."
He noted PCSO incurring debt was nothing new. "Kung sino umupo sa PCSO, you have to honor the debts of the past administrations like what I did when I was chairman."
He also denied they issued guarantee letters for ghost patients. "Lahat dadaan sa internal audit, then accounting, and ultimately the resident COA auditor ng PCSO. Pag di kumpleto ang papeles, di babayaran."