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Cam hits P10-M Christmas party of PCSO; it’s only P6M, says GM

Sandra Cam overseas Filipino worker Kerwin Espinosa illegal drugs Abu Dhabi

Sandra Cam. Photo by Noy Morcoso/INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

SAN PEDRO CITY—For a government agency that doles out assistance to the less fortunate, holding a P10-million Christmas party in a five-star hotel was “inappropriate,” said former jueteng whistle blower Sandra Cam, who was recently appointed to the board of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

Cam, who skipped the PCSO party as a sign of “protest,” described the event held Tuesday evening at the Edsa Shangri-La’s Isla Ballroom as a “very grandiose party.”

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“We could have held the Christmas party in the office or in our own departments,” Cam said on Wednesday. “But shelling out P10 million in a five-star hotel? That’s something else,” she added.

PCSO general manager Alexander Balutan however refuted Cam’s statement on Wednesday, and said that the Department of Budget and Management had approved the original Christmas party budget of P14 million, but that he had it cut down to P6 million.

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Raffle prizes

What they had saved would be added to the calamity fund for Biliran and other areas in the Visayas hit hard by Tropical Storm “Urduja,” he added.

“Almost half of the (P6 million) went to the employees in terms of (raffle and performance) prizes,” Balutan said, referring to the P200,000, P150,000, P100,000 and two P50,000 awarded for the five best group performances.

With 1,500 employees to accommodate, there were not enough venues as big as Shangri-La Hotel, he said. “Siksikan na nga sila diyan (Even at that, the employees had to squeeze in).”

The employees deserve the party, the PCSO official said. “(They) worked hard to raise PCSO earnings from P37.4 billion to P51 billion by the end of 2017, a record high in history.”

Balutan added: “We also have to take care of the employees (who were) stripped of their Christmas bonuses and 13th month pay. What they get are only basic salaries.”

PCSO chair Jose Jorge Corpuz, meanwhile, said Cam was being fed wrong information. “That’s P6 million to be exact, for 1580 employees.”

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He added: “You celebrate Christmas (only) once a year. Our last party was austere, we just celebrated at the Philippine Navy (headquarters). Our employees deserve (the party). It was not lavish.”

Board resolution

A copy of a board resolution provided by Cam’s office showed that the PCSO had approved P10.18 million from its 2017 budget for this year’s Christmas celebration, with P3.76 million earmarked for raffle prizes; P3.3 million for “food, venue and physical arrangements;” P900,000 for corporate giveaways, and P600,000 for a Christmas kiddie party.

Florante Solmerin, a PCSO spokesperson, said speaking about the fund spent on the party was “beyond (his) jurisdiction.” He added: “You got that (information) from a director of the board, so let (that officer) explain it.”

Cam had earlier vowed to clean up the PCSO of corruption, especially in the operations of the Small Town Lottery, prompting Balutan to remind her to stick to her job as board director responsible mainly for policymaking.

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TAGS: Alexander Balutan, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Philippine news updates, Sandra Cam
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