PCSO exec grilled over ‘lavish’ Christmas party
Lawmakers quizzed Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) General Manager Alexander Balutan on Wednesday over the agency’s allegedly lavish Christmas party last year, which cost the government some P6.3 million.
Balutan reiterated during a joint hearing in the Senate that from the original budget of P11 million, the agency was able to reduce to P6.3 million its expenses for the party held at Edsa Shangri-La’s Isla Ballroom in December 2017.
“Palagay ko mas magandang tingnan na na-cut naming itong budget na ito sa P6.3 (million) so malaking bagay na po ‘yun, hindi namin ginastos sa iba…,” Balutan said.
“And anyway, I’d like to emphasize that these funds…are not coming from the tax of the people but from the gaming public. But we still exercise prudence dun sa expenses,” he also said.
But Balutan’s defense did not sit well with Camarines Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte.
Villafuerte said the PCSO could not just choose a hotel to party and claim that it was frugal.
“Because the President himself hindi nag party sa hotel. Nag-attend nga kami ng Asean, ang pagkain namin kapiranggot tapos ang PCSO nag hotel kayo,” he said.
“Hindi pwedeng sabihin na gusto naming itong hotel na ito, hindi pwede ‘yan because as government officials, we should protect every peso spent.”
“Kung gusto talaga nilang mag-party, hindi naman kelangang sa hotel. You can’t say frugal, simple and yet sa hotel. Maraming magagandang lugar na hindi naman kelangang sa hotel…,” the lawmaker added.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, who presided over the hearing as chair of the Senate committee on ways and means, agreed with Villafuerte.
“The reason why your party doesn’t sit well with the Filipino people is because the very nature of your work is charity. Pagtatapos malalaman nila, no matter how much you spent, sabihin mo ng P10 million, P6 million lang, pero charity ‘yung mandate mo tapos nandun kayo sa five-star hotel,” Lacson said.
“’Yun ang dahilan kung bakit nagkaroon ng controversy. Siguro kung halimbawa 10 milyong (piso) man ang nagastos pero andun kayo halimbawa sa basketball court, hindi masyadng mapapansin e,” he also said. /kga
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