ANGELES CITY — “It’s about the singer, not the song.”
Thus, said Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) general manager Alexander F. Balutan stating that he believes there’s an underlying motive behind Sandra Cam’s attacks against the agency.
“Let us look at the quality of the singer, not the song. What’s her motive? What does she want to happen?” asked Balutan in his first press conference for 2018 on Monday.
Cam, a “jueteng” whistle-blower, is a newly appointed PCSO board member.
There are talks that Cam has long been eyeing the general manager position of PCSO hence her various attacks, he observed.
Last December, Cam sought a Senate investigation into the agency’s “lavish” Christmas party held at the EDSA Shangri-La Hotel, which allegedly cost about P10 million.
“Hindi ‘yung kinain namin sa Shangri-la na 5-star hotel, maliit lang ‘yun eh! Hindi naman ‘yun. Masyadong malayo ‘yun kung titignan mo malalim ang kanilang motibo dito (It’s not about what we ate in Shangri-la, a 5-star hotel, that’s very cheap. That’s not it! It goes beyond; her motive is much deeper than that),” said Balutan.
In 2017, PCSO earned a total amount of P52,986,520,391 from its lottery games compared to its P39,564,206,760 earnings in 2016.
“It was not just a Christmas Party for close to 1,600 employees, but it was also a yearend celebration for our phenomenal success in terms of sales performance. If PCSO was a private sales company with earnings that rose from P39 billion to P52 billion, napakalaking sales performance increase nun (…that was a huge sales performance increase), which is really a cause for a big celebration,” explained Roger Ramirez, PCPCSO head of human resource department.
Ramirez also disclosed that their approved budget submitted in 2016 was P14 million, it was further reduced to P11 million and even down to P9 million.
But the actual expense only cost about P6.4 million, P3.3 million for the food and venue reservation, and another P3.1 million for corporate giveaways, raffle prizes and sectoral presentations.
He also disclosed that the employees used to enjoy 13th month pay, three months Christmas bonuses, hazard pays, and weekly draw allowances. However, the present administration yielded to the disallowances issued by the Commission on Audit – including the Christmas bonuses in 2017.
“I want to emphasize that what we spent (during Christmas party) was not taken from the people’s taxes, but from the betting public. Kaya nga ang dapat lang magsalita lang dito eh ‘yung bumibili lang ng lotto namin. ‘Yun lang ang may karapatan – ‘yung mga tumataya sa STL o nagpa-patronize ng aming mga products (People who can or have the right to comment on this issue are only those who buy our lotto, who bet on our STLs, or patronize our products),” said Balutan.
Do not bite the hands that feed you
Balutan reminded Cam that as a board of director, she is now a government official subject to the rules and regulations of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG).
“Government official ka na, hindi ka na whistle-blower (You are now a government official. You are no longer a whistle-blower). There are rules governing government officials, you should act accordingly. You are now a member of the family. Do not bite the hands that feed you,” said Balutan.
He added that PCSO should have a “strong” and “united” workforce that marches towards one objective, which they have been trying to protect since day one last year.
However, if Cam continues to attack the agency, it might cause some division and low morale not only to the employees but also to the betting public.
“Pag nawalan ng tiwala ang tao sa amin, wala na ring tiwala ang betting public, babagsak ang sales natin (If people lose their trust in us, the betting public might feel the same. Our sales will drop),” Balutan pointed out.