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PCSO: DSWD need not take unclaimed lotto pot

By: - Reporter / @jovicyeeINQ
/ 07:09 AM December 20, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—Unclaimed lotto prizes do not just sit in the bank.

The money is used to finance the program of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), according to Jose Ferdinand Rojas II, PCSO vice chair and general manager, in comments on a bill in the House of Representatives that would give unclaimed lotto prizes to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

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Rep. Winston Castelo of Quezon City filed House Bill 5257, the proposed DSWD Enhanced Social Welfare Program Act of 2014, which would authorize the DSWD to use the PCSO’s unclaimed lotto prizes to improve its services.

Castelo’s proposal stemmed from an inquiry conducted by the House committee on games and amusement, where Rojas disclosed that from 2006 to 2013, unclaimed lotto prizes amounted to P3.35 billion.

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In a statement, Rojas said the public did not need to worry that unclaimed lotto prizes just sit in the PCSO’s bank accounts.

“These funds are actively used to support the programs of the PCSO [that have made the agency a source of relief for Filipinos in need] in the past 80 years,” he said.

Rojas said that for this year, the PCSO had so far released medical assistance of “P16 million to P18 million daily,” a four-fold increase from 2010 when the agency released an average of P4.5 million a day.

He said the PCSO charter was clear that “balances of any funds in the PCSO, including the prize fund where lotto prizes are taken from, shall revert to and form part of the charity [fund], which shall be used for health programs… and for medical assistance and services or charities of national character.”

Rojas said the P3.35 billion unclaimed prizes was used to fund the agency’s charity programs.

Even without the bill, Rojas said the PCSO was “more than willing to cooperate and coordinate with any government agencies, especially in the delivery of health and social services.”

He cited that in times of calamities, the PCSO hands out medical supplies to the DSWD for its relief operations.

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At present, Rojas said 55 percent of the revenue generated by the agency from its games go to the prize fund, 30 percent to the charity fund and the remaining 15 percent to operations.

The PCSO, he said, does not receive any funding from the national government.

The average P8 billion that goes to the charity fund each year helps support the agency’s flagship Individual Medical Assistance Program (IMAP) that subsidizes the hospital bills of indigent patients in need of financial help.

Other programs supported by the charity fund are the ambulance donation, endowment fund, and medical equipment and medicine donation programs.

The PCSO also helps support other government agencies like the Commission on Higher Education and National Museum, Rojas said.

When asked if the PCSO was hoping that the bill wouldn’t be passed into a law, Rojas replied, “We’ll leave it to the wisdom of the lawmakers.”

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TAGS: IMAP, Individual Medical Assistance Program, Jose Ferdinand Rojas II, PCSO, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office
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