January 24, 2018, 9:45 am
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Senate to probe lavish PCSO party

SENATOR Panfilo Lacson yesterday said the Senate will hold next week a hearing on the supposed “lavish” Christmas party of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office at a five-star hotel in Mandaluyong City as well as on the earnings of the Small Town Lottery system.

In a press briefing, Lacson said PCSO officials were already invited to attend the hearing on January 17.

Lacson said the Senate will look into the claim of PCSO board member Sandra Cam that the agency spent close to P10 million for its Christmas party, though PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan denied it.

Balutan had said PCSO only spent P6 million out of the proposed P14-million budget for the event.

Lacson said he understands the Filipino tradition of holding Christmas parties but it should not be lavish.

“Okay lang naman kasi tradisyon nating mga Pilipino ang magsagawa ng Christmas party pero ang PCSO na ang isa sa mandato mo ay charity tapos magpapakita ka ng masyadong lavish na Christmas party parang di tugma sa mandato mo,” the senator said.

As to the STL earnings, Lacson said the Senate will take a look at the presumptive monthly revenues and the report on STL operations that Cam alleged is just a front for jueteng operations in the country.

“We really should know the base number of earnings kasi lumalabas sa ngayon napakababa ng presumptive monthly revenues at ano’ng basehan nito,” Lacson said.

Last Tuesday, detained Senator Leila de Lima called for a Senate probe on the squabbles among officials of the PCSO.

In filing Senate Resolution No. 578, De Lima said there is a need to investigate the issue to safeguard the PCSO’s mandate and shield its operations from interference and improper influence of certain personalities with vested interests and dubious reputation.

She noted that the squabble in the PCSO started when Cam questioned the alleged lavish Christmas party of the PCSO.

De Lima said the Senate probe should include Cam’s revelations on the PCSO’s Christmas party as well as Balutan’s claim that what Cam is doing is part of her “personal agenda” and “demolition job” against him so that she could control the operation of the STL system nationwide.

Balutan earlier claimed that Cam is only making false accusations targeting PCSO officials to “get the agency’s top post” and help her friend, Charlie “Atong” Ang, to monopolize the STL operations.

The PCSO chief said Ang had tried but failed to get approval for his STL bid during a meeting that Cam requested with PCSO Chairman Jose Jorge Corpuz last year.

In the same resolution, De Lima said the Senate should look into the previous claim of Ang linking Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon to an alleged plan to assassinate him last April.

Ang previously accused Aguirre of wanting to eliminate him so that his brother, Engineer Ogie Aguirre, will have unhampered control of STL operations from Batangas to the Bicol region.

He also claimed that the PCSO wants his company - Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation - stopped because of conflicts with the STL operations.

Aguirre said Ang was running a gambling business through his company without paying taxes to the government and that Meridien also lacked a franchise to operate as an STL unit by the PCSO.
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