PCSO's Juico: Nothing wrong with STL aid

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 01 2011 07:30 PM | Updated as of Aug 02 2011 08:22 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Chairperson Margie Juico told congressmen on Monday that there is nothing wrong with some sectors and officials receiving portions of revenues from the office's Small-Town Lottery (STL) operations.

Juico said the agency continues to reach out to local government units and other sectors to make sure the PCSO extends assistance to those who need it.

Likewise, Juico said they will continue to extend aid to the Catholic Church.

"Tuloy-tuloy ho ang tulong, maraming maliliit na parish priest ang tinutulungan," she said.

PCSO Board Member Mabel Mamba told lawmakers that what is prohibited is for funds to be given to religious groups to support their cause and not for medical assistance.

Nueva Ecija Rep. Rodolfo Antonino confirmed before the House Games and Amusements Committee that he is among those who received their share of STL revenues, equivalent to some 2.5% of receipts.

Antonino complained that the bishops and congressmen named as receiving money from the PCSO were put in a bad light when the donations are within the mandate of the agency.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez also refuted reports that he got some P5 million from the PCSO. He said the Northern Mindanao Medical Center in his district only received P750,000 from the PCSO.

Rodriguez added that while the PCSO board approved P6 million for the district at his recommendation, no further amount was released.

Juico also said the PCSO will give assistance to all congressmen, regardless of their political affiliations.

PCSO Board Member Aleta Tolentino, meanwhile, said STL operators can give congressmen their share directly, based on PCSO rules.

Tolentino, however, noted a 2008 Commission on Audit (COA) report said some of the disbursements have not been properly liquidated as required by the rules.

The 7 bishops who received money from the PCSO to buy sports utility vehicles for their parishes skipped the inquiry of the House games and amusements committee.

Monsignor Juanito Figura said Bishop Ernesto Salgado has just returned from a month-long trip to the United States and is attending to other commitments.

Six other bishops -- Orlando Quevedo, Romulo Valles, Rodolfo Beltran, Leopoldo Jaucian, Martin Jumoad, and Juan de Dios Pueblos -- also skipped the meeting because they also had commitments.

Figura also said they have nothing new to add to previous statements made in a similar probe in the Senate.

He said CBCP President Nereo Odchimar also did not appear in the probe at the lower House because he is in the United States.