Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office general manager Alexander Balutan on Tuesday maintained that the state lottery agency’s P6.4-million Christmas party was “appropriate” as it was meant to reward the employees for their hard work for chalking up a record-high revenue last year.
“I think considering our current situation, with ‘yung presyo po kasi ngayon medyo mataas na rin,
I think it’s appropriate [party expenses],” Balutan, a former Marine general, told a congressional hearing conducted by the House committee on good government and public accountability chaired by Surigao City Rep. Johnny Pimentel.
Balutan made the statement in response to the query raised by Camarines Sur Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr. if the Christmas party held by the PCSO was acceptable.
Balutan reported to the committee that PCSO’s income reached P52 billion last year compared to P37.4 billion in 2016.
“Siguro nga may karapatan din sila na kahit papano mamantikaan ‘yung nguso nila at katawan nila, makatikim naman ng
aircon dahil mahihirap din po itong mga empleyado
and they deserve that,” said Balutan. “Kung titingnan natin anong ginawa nila sa isang taon, ilang bilyon ang kanilang naiakyat
so it’s a booster for the morale and welfare of our employees,” Balutan said. Maricel V. Cruz
For his part, Pimentel said officials of the PCSO who were behind the approval of the P10 million cash advance could have committed an illegal act.
“I see that there are violations of existing laws. There is never any provision that says you can make any cash advance lalo na ito ay P10 million, para gamitin sa Christmas party,” Pimentel said.
The Commission on Audit (CoA) memorandum circular provides that P10,000 is the maximum cash advances.
Pimentel also expressed belief that the P16,389 which the PCSO allegedly spent for the thanksgiving Mass was impractical.
“The chair agrees that this is a waste of government money. I can see that there has been a violation of existing laws. First, you can’t use government money to give to the Church,” Pimentel said.
From P14 million, the budget for the controversial PCSO party was reduced to P6.4 million from the P10.6 million cash advances.
But PCSO board member Sandra Cam, the whistleblower, said only P10.27 million out of the P10.68 million cash advances was accounted for.
This developed as the committee asked the PCSO to submit a list of lawmakers receiving proceeds from government-run Small Town Lottery (STL) operations to finance their congressional projects.
Under the law, seven percent of STL income in a particular district will be allocated for the projects in the area.