MANILA — The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) on Monday said it would remit P2.5 billion to the treasury bureau to help fund universal healthcare programs under state medical insurer PhilHealth.
The funds were sourced from Lotto and STL (small town lottery), PCSO General Manager Melquiades Robles said in a press conference.
“This is the first of the many remittances we will do,” Robles said, noting that under the law, PCSO must allocate 40 percent of its charity fund to the government’s health-related programs.
While the amount seems substantial, the PCSO’s charity fund has been “reduced dramatically” due to taxes and other laws that require funding from the state gaming office, Robles.
In 2018, the PCSO’s charity fund was at P9 billion, but it had since scaled down to P900 million due to documentary stamps, value-added tax and several non-charity programs.
“We have the earmarking, Malasakit, Universal Health Care law, National Book Development Board, things that have nothing to do with our mandate, naka-automatic earmarking po sa amin ‘yun,” Robles said.
“We used to give as high as P200,000 even P500,000 during the time na wala pa kaming taxes, now you’ll be lucky to get P50,000,” he said.
“We are working on it na yung wala namang kaugnayan sa charity ay matanggal kasi ang laki din ng nawawala sa amin,” added the official.
(We are working to remove in our allocation the things that have nothing to do with charity.)
The PCSO is also trying to curb illegal operations and encourage the public to play on platforms that remit earnings to the national treasury.
“It is a fact that we have a lot of illegal operations,” Robles said.
“We don’t have police powers, but we are using a lot of persuasion and legal moves to curtail the operation of illegal jueteng,” he said.
Meanwhile, PhilHealth thanked the PCSO for the funding, saying it would be used to cover members’ benefits for dialysis, orthopedic, catastrophes, among others.
“This fund is specifically for benefit improvement and will not in anyway be used for admin expense,” said PhilHealth spokesperson Shirley Domingo.
“It will be used specifically for benefit improvement,” she said.