Chiz Bill Strips PCSO Board of Discretionry Powers over Charity Funds

In light of the revelations in connection with the misuse of the multibillion funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) in the past, Senator Chiz Escudero has moved to contain the discretionary powers of its board over disbursement of charity funds.

Escudero filed Senate Bill No. 2892 in order to institutionalize a just and equitable distribution of the PCSO charity funds.

“We are amending Section 6 of the agency’s charter as it has sanctioned the promotion of patronage politics and has also become a source of injustice and inequality with the way all these hearings have shown as to how the charity fund has been disbursed with bias for or against those who are in power,” Escudero said.

This particular provision of the PCSO charter divides its net receipts to 55 percent-45 percent distribution. The former is earmarked to winnings and prizes, and the latter to charity fund and operating expenses and capital expenditure.

The PCSO board of directors is empowered to make payment and grant from the charity fund, which is set at a minimum of 30 percent of net receipts. To top that authority, it is also authorized to earmark a minimum of 15 percent of net receipts for operating expenses and capital expenditures.

In the 2009 Commission on Audit (COA) report, the agency’s disbursement from its charity fund amounted to a whooping P6.2 billion. The disbursement includes the highly questionable intelligence funds maintained by the PCSO.

“I am proposing that the board’s discretionary powers be removed and that the charity fund be specifically earmarked based on the policies and mandate of PCSO,” Escudero said.

He also sought the expressed approval of the Office of the President in cases when the board needs to allocate over 15 percent of the charity institution’s funds.

“The PCSO fund mess controversy has shown how the charity fund has been mishandled and misused. This bill is a move to ensure that the government’s money will be distributed in accordance with specific and real needs grounded on justice and equity,” the senator explained.

Escudero said that the proposed measure, once passed into law, will eradicate the lack of institutionalized criteria and standard in the disposition of fund.

“Arbitrariness has always led to abuse. We want transparency. As I have always espoused, remove discretion, you can lessen, if not totally remove corruption,” Escudero added.