By: Emme Rose Santiagudo and Dolly Yasa
POOR individuals who rely on revenues from legalized gambling for medical and other assistance fear they will lose their lifeline if the stoppage of all games sanctioned by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) continues.
Nenita Roldan, 62, of Barangay Bata, Bacolod City asked President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider his order to stop all PCSO-licensed games because of “massive corruption” as it will affect her and other indigent folks.
The PCSO retains most of its revenues from legalized gambling for its Individual Medical Assistance Program or IMAP for poor individuals.
Roldan relayed her request through Daily Guardian in an interview at the PCSO-Bacolod office where she was waiting for her turn to request help for the dialysis of her 44-year-old son Henry.
“Kun mauntat ini, wala na kami pangayuan bulig. Amo lang ini ang amon ginasaligan (If this stops, we have nowhere to run to for help. We rely only on this),” a teary-eyed Roldan said.
She added that they cannot afford her son’s dialysis if PCSO runs out of funds.
“Ga-apelar ako sa aton president nga buligan ya kami. Wala kami kuhaan kon madula ang PCSO, amo lang gid ini ang makabulig sa mga pigado (We appeal to our president to help us. We have nowhere to go if PCSO is gone, it is the only agency that can help the poor),” Roldan said.
She said her son Henry is the eldest in her brood of seven and used to work in a sugar farm before.
While her other children have their respective families already, Henry did not get married because he took care of them.
PCSO- Bacolod Manager Jose Manuel Villagracia assured that the assistance to indigent patients will continue amid the stoppage of lotto, Small Town Lottery, Peryahan ng Bayan and other PCSO-sanctioned games.
“As per directive from GM Garma (PCSO General Manager Royina Garma), yung mga individual medical assistance program will continue,” Villagracia said.
He said PCSO Bacolod shells out at least P745,000 to 50-60 individuals daily.
The beneficiaries are patients in different private hospitals in Bacolod and the Dona Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital where PCSO has an assistance center.
While still shocked with the suspension of all gaming operations, PCSO-Iloilo Branch Manager Janette Lloyd said that just like good soldiers, they only follow orders from the higher ups.
“Kun ano ang instructions, we are just a good soldier. We only follow what is the order so since the announcement of the President nagpangplastar na kami sang mga signages nga closed sa tanan nga lotto outlets, Keno stations, STL outlets and ginpanaugan na ang layo para magcooperate,” she said in a phone interview on Monday.
Despite the closure of gaming outlets, Lloyd announced that they will continue their medical assistance program in keeping with a memorandum issued by the PCSO Central Office on Monday.
“Subong nga aga, may nabaton ko nga memorandum nga ma-continue ang aton medical assistance and we will still accept applications,” she said.
According to Lloyd, they have a daily budget of P400,000 for those who seek help.
Initially it was P800,000 daily but was reduced by half because of lower income from the STL and lotto.
Based on their presumptive monthly retail rates (PMMR), the STL operator in Iloilo City, ZFIC Gaming Corp, remits P60 to P70 million per month.
Red Subay Gaming Corp, which runs STL in Iloilo province, remits P111 million a month.
“65% nga revenue sang PCSO gakadto sa price fund, ang 30 percent amo na ang gina-allot for charity fund particularly ang medical assistance and ang 15 percent amo na ang nabilin nga operating fund sang office,” Lloyd said.
On the average, the PCSO office in Iloilo caters to 80 to 200 patients daily.
From January to December 2018, PCSO-Iloilo released P184 million to around 11,310 patients.
According to Lloyd, thousands of private workers and employees of two STL outlets and 150 lotto and Keno outlets in Iloilo are affected by the closure.
“Sad to say, apektuhan gid ang livelihood, amo na natabo. But the President only wants what’s the best for the Filipino people. We just hope and pray nga maayos ini as soon as possible para mabalik ang dako nga bulig sang PCSO,” she said.
Nevertheless, she thanked everyone who helped them in following the president’s order, particularly the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Based on a report from Police Regional Office (PRO) 6, all PCSO gaming stations in the province were shut down as of Sunday.
A total of 283 lotto outlets, 60 Keno stations, 212 small town lottery (STL) outlets and eight Peryahan ng Bayan ceased their operations while two persons were arrested for collecting bets.