MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte defended the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office's (PCSO) highest ranking official from allegations of corruption hurled by agency board member Sandra Cam.
Cam earlier criticized PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan for hosting a "lavish" Christmas party for agency employees. She said the PCSO spent around P9.88 million for a party at a 5-star hotel in Mandaluyong.
"Sandra, do not be offended ha. Magkaibigan tayo. Huwag kang magalit. Eh 'yung kay Balutan, all over, he spent about 4 million para sa lahat. If it was really a Christmas party, pinakain ang tao. Okay," Duterte said in front of Cam during a speech at the general assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines.
(We are friends, don't be mad. But the issue with Balutan all over, is he spent about P4 millionfor everything. If it was really a Christmas party, the people were fed. Okay.)
Balutan had said the agency spent P6.2 million for the event.
Duterte has pushed for frugal governance, even hitting government officials over extravagant travels and lifestyle.
He previously teased Cam to mend ties with Balutan, showing that he did not take Cam’s allegations against the PCSO general manager seriously.
The President, however, did not address Cam's allegation that Balutan and PCSO chairman Jose Jorge Corpuz pocketed kickbacks from alleged gambling lords.
Balutan, for his part, has accused Cam of plotting to replace him to allow gambling operator Charlie “Atong” Ang to monopolize small town lottery.
Report from Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News