MANILA - There was nothing wrong with the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office's (PCSO) grant of more than P300 million in bonuses and various allowances to its employees in 2011, one of its officials said on Monday.
Ma. Aleta Tolentino, a member of PCSO's board of directors, told ABS-CBN News on Monday that the bonuses that employees received from the provident or retirement fund were their own money.
"Something is wrong with that report. It is misleading," Tolentino said, referring to a report by the Commission on Audit (COA).
According to the COA report, the grant of grocery and Christmas bonuses, as well as various allowances to PCSO employees in the total amount of P302,795,557.71 was excessive, irregular, and unauthorized.
Tolentino explained that the employees requested that their benefits be placed in the provident fund.
The amounts came from PCSO's operating fund and were well within the agency's budget, she added.
"Instead of them getting it personally, they asked PCSO to deposit it to their provident fund accounts. Kanila rin naman 'yon," Tolentino said.
Divided among PCSO's employees, the bonuses would only amount to about P15,000 a month, she said.
The COA report also found that financial aid for indigent or poor patients was reduced because the PCSO charged P92.3 million in medical aid for employees to the charity fund instead of the operating fund.
But Tolentino said PCSO employees are also qualified to use the charity fund for medical needs.
"Kung sila o kanilang pamilya ay magkasakit, humihingi rin sila ng tulong sa PCSO kamukha ng ibang Pilipino," she said. "There is no law that prohibits the employees of PCSO to seek assistance from PCSO."
Besides, even some PCSO employees themselves are "indigent" and can thus seek medical assistance from the agency, Tolentino added.
Tolentino said PCSO officials have given these explanations to COA at an exit conference last December.
She said COA officials will conduct further audit on the matter.