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Patients seeking medical aid from PCSO may turn to Palace

/ 07:26 AM July 29, 2019
Palace: Judge Duterte not by his words, but by his deeds

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo. INQUIRER file photo

MANILA, Philippines — Patients relying on the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) for medical aid may go to the Office of the President for help, after President Duterte shut down the PCSO’s gaming operations.

Malacañang on Sunday gave assurance that the government would continue to help patients in need of medical assistance even after the President closed lotto, Peryahan ng Bayan and Keno games through which the PCSO raised money for charity.

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Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President had discretionary funds that may be used to provide aid to patients reliant on PCSO programs.

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“We still have the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. and the Office of the President. The President has discretionary funds,” Panelo said in radio interview.

“Those who need help, you can write us. We will just direct your request to Pagcor and the Office of the President. You can expect that the government is still ready to help you,” he said.

The President ordered all PCSO games closed on Friday, citing “massive corruption” in the agency.

But even with the PCSO’s operations stalled, the Palace said the government could still finance the universal health care program by sourcing funds from Pagcor.

Pagcor is a government-owned and -controlled corporation under the Office of the President that regulates casinos.

Panelo defended the President’s verbal order, saying a formal directive would be issued soon.

“That’s already forthcoming. But even without an executive order, it can still be done. The order needs to be enforced immediately,” he said.

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Grand conspiracy

Panelo said the President had discovered a “grand conspiracy” among officials, stakeholders and enforcers of the PCSO games to cheat the government of its rightful income.

“I think the government loses 60 to 70 percent. But if the scoundrels make money off it, for him, why should we implement this kind of project?” Panelo said.

“It certainly helps. But if we are getting help from something involving massive corruption and the people we should be trusting are involved, then maybe it’s better to just close it,” he added.

Panelo said he did not know if the closure was permanent or temporary.

“I don’t know if it’s permanent. But for now, he wants all PCSO gaming outlets closed,” Panelo said, adding that PCSO employees need not report for work since they won’t be doing anything for now.

It was unclear whether they would be paid for doing nothing. —Julie M. Aurelio

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TAGS: medical aid, PCSO closure, PCSO corruption, Rodrigo Duterte, Salvador Panelo
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