MANILA — The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) uses its confidential funds to gather information on illegal gambling, officials said on Tuesday.
The agency received around P100 million in confidential funds this year and has spent P25 million of that amount, PCSO Assistant General Manager Lauro Patiag told the House Appropriations Committee.
"If we talk about policy decision, we have a budget for this from the confidential fund from which we gather information regarding illegal gambling activities in the provinces," PCSO Board Secretary Reymar Santiago said.
"And this is being processed po by the management and they coordinate with law enforcement agencies... This move is being done to help eradicate illegal gambling activities," he added.
But Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers and Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo noted that illegal gambling persists despite the PCSO's use of confidential funds.
"If they have a confidential fund purposely to help or assist in the eradication of illegal gambling, they’re probably not performing very well. Because there’s still illegal gambling existing in the country today," Barbers said.
Patiag said that the fund is accessed only by the PCSO general manager, who was not present in the hearing.
The official cited a 2015 joint circular which said the utilization of confidential funds is generally classified, "which requires not only strong internal controls in the release and utilization thereof, but also strict accounting and auditing rules to prevent mishandling or improper application of the funds."
— Report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News