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EDSA SHANGRI-LA BASH

Top PCSO execs say P6-M party austere

Two senior officials of the government’s charity agency on Friday said they were prepared to defend the P6 million they had spent for a Christmas party with one saying that he would rather resign than work under “jueteng” whistle-blower Sandra Cam who had exposed the “very grandiose” celebration.

Jose Jorge Corpuz, chair of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), said he and other top officials were ready to face any investigation of Tuesday’s Christmas party at the posh Edsa Shangri-La Hotel.

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Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said the President was expected to look into the controversy.

Personal agenda?

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“It was very reasonable. We can justify the expenses. We have all the receipts,” Corpuz told the Inquirer in an interview.

He said Cam’s accusation had lowered the morale of PCSO employees and her attacks were “below the belt.”

“I think she has personal agenda. She has been here at the PCSO for only a week and this … Our employees here now have very low morale. People think we are stealing money from the people,” Corpuz said.

He said Cam didn’t know that her actions and words have been affecting employees of the PCSO.

Care for PCSO

“We protected and took care of the PCSO for a year,” Corpuz said. “We worked hard to increase earnings and she’s only one week, and she has ruined it.”

In an interview with Radyo Inquirer on Friday, the PCSO general manager, Alexander Balutan, said he would step down if Cam were to be appointed chair of the agency.

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Cam as PCSO head?

Balutan also defended the P6 million spent for the party, saying it was “very austere” compared to their previous Christmas celebrations.

He said that long before her appointment to the PCSO board on Dec. 5, Cam had been saying that she wanted to head the agency and clean it up.

“That hurt our feelings. We are building up the reputation of the PCSO. She is trying to destroy the agency before the President,” Balutan said.

“I would be deeply hurt if she would be our chairman, so it would be better if I just resign,” he added.

‘Grandiose’

Cam described the celebration as a “very grandiose party” and refused to join it in protest.

PCSO officials said they had spent P6 million, not P10 million as Cam claimed.

‘Height of insensitivity’

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said the “lavish” party was the “height of insensitivity” and showed a disconnect with the needs of the people.

Gatchalian described the PCSO party as a “prime example of insensitive public officials spending public funds on exorbitant parties without regard to the plight of their poor constituents.”

‘Starvation diet’

Now that Malacañang will be cutting the number of foreign trips by executive officials, it should also scale back on lavish parties by state agencies, Gatchalian said after the multimillion-peso Christmas bash grabbed national attention.

He said the “starvation diet” applied to foreign trips should also be slapped on lavish government parties and unnecessary expenses.

“I join the President in creating a culture of accountability and prudence in managing public funds,” he added.

Foreign travels

Mr. Duterte has said he would cut back on the foreign travels of officials of the executive branch, except diplomats, starting Jan. 1. He said he did not want officials to be absent from their posts.

While there would be fewer globetrotters from the executive, the legislative may not follow suit, according to Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III.

“I’m actually encouraging my colleagues to travel so we will have an ‘internationally engaged Senate’ which is part of my vision for the Philippine Senate, and also to take some of the traveling burden off my shoulders,” Pimentel said.

Like the President, Pimentel said he did not enjoy traveling out of the country, but was only forced to do so as part of his duties as the head of the Senate.

“Hence, I want some of my colleagues to represent the Senate abroad,” he said.

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TAGS: Alexander Balutan, Jose Jorge Corpuz, PCSO Christmas party, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Philippine news updates, Sandra Cam
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