Philippine Sweepstakes Office Accused Of Spending Money For Lavish Concert

November 2, 2007 at 4:55 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 02, 2007) – A lawmaker on Friday accused the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) of spending millions of pesos for a show on board a luxury liner.

Rep. Joseph Santiago said the PCSO spent the money in subsidizing a show by American singer David Pomeranz on board the 76,800-ton SuperStar Virgo, a five-star luxury cruise ship that provides five-day “escapades” across Southeast Asia.

“Why did the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office spend millions of pesos to sponsor a show on board an international luxury cruise ship, when the agency does not sell lottery tickets overseas? Did PCSO officials simply want an excuse to go on a junket, a pleasurable excursion at public expense?” he asked.

Santiago said PCSO executives were among those treated to front row seats in one of Pomeranz’s shows in the SuperStar Virgo off Singapore.

“This is ridiculous and wasteful on the part of the PCSO and its officials. They definitely have a lot of explaining to do,” he said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

“We are dumbfounded as to why the PCSO is sponsoring these costly overseas events, when it does not sell online lottery tickets abroad,” Santiago added, but he did not say how much PCSO spent for the concert.

Santiago has been highly critical of the “needless and lavish spending” of the PCSO and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) on advertising and other promotional activities, even if they are “virtual monopolies.”

The Catanduanes lawmaker previously criticized the PCSO and Pagcor for spending hundreds of millions of pesos every year on publicity when they have no local competitors.

“This is something that should be promptly looked into by the appropriate congressional committees, if only to ensure the more prudent use of public funds,” Santiago said. “Both the PCSO and Pagcor are obviously wasting a lot of badly needed financial resources on publicity spending.”

“We are dealing here with staggering sums that could be better spent to directly subsidize more community hospitals and patients, or to boldly support basic as well as higher education in the provinces. Besides, the best way for the PCSO and Pagcor to promote their activities, considering they face no real competition here, is simply to help more underprivileged communities and charitable institutions,” Santiago said.

Pagcor is the country’s third most profitable corporation and government’s third biggest revenue generator. In 2006, Pagcor posted a total income of P25.4 billion, the firm’s highest ever in its 23-year history.

Pagcor alone is believed to be allocating at least P1.25 billion annually for advertising, marketing and public relations.

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