Pagcor to allocate funds for health programs

MANILA, Philippines – State-owned and -controlled Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) will dedicate a portion of its revenues to health programs, following the refusal of Education Secretary Leoner Briones to have gambling money continue funding education projects.  

Ang directive sa amin, lahat ng funds for social projects ay para sa health na. May sulat din po sa amin si Secretary Briones na hindi niya po gusto 'yung gambling money na gamitin sa education. Kaya po ang kanyang budget ay na-increase by 31% para ma-accommodate 'yung inyong pangangailangan sa education,” Pagcor chairperson Andrea Domingo told congressmen during the budget briefing on Tuesday, August 23.  

(The directive given to us was for all funds for social projects to be set aside for health. Secretary Briones wrote to us, saying that she does not want gambling money to be spent on education. She said this was why her budget was increased by 31% to accommodate the needs of congressmen for education projects.)

Domingo also read a portion of Briones’ letter to Pagcor during the briefing.

In 2016, the Department of Education has a budget of P411.905 billion. Under the proposed 2017 budget, it rose to P567.561 billion. 

Domingo recalled that President Rodrigo Duterte announced in June that he wants Pagcor's social responsibility projects to focus on health. This includes providing free quality medicines to poor Filipinos. 

Pagcor, however, will only be tasked to raise the revenue for health projects. Disbursement, said Domingo, would be done by the Office of the President. 

“We will raise the revenue, but they will be the one to disburse it. But I’m sure we can endorse proposed projects from the honorable congressmen and make the recommendation to the Office of the President and we’ll follow up with you,” said the Pagcor chairperson.  

As part of its mission to contribute to nation building, Pagcor has been funding several projects, including the construction of public schools, production of school desks and armchairs using confiscated logs, creation of armchairs from old slot machine stands, football lessons for students, and feeding programs, among others.  

During the budget briefing, Pagcor assistant vice president for accounting Sharon Quintanilla said they recorded P47.21 billion in revenue in 2015, the highest in the past 3 decades.  

Of this amount, P29.07 billion were spent for Pagcor's social responsibility projects. As of May 2016, Pagcor completed 3,084 classrooms in 597 areas across the country.  

P10 billion revenue loss in 2017

Quintanilla also disclosed that, for this year, Pagcor is projecting a total income of P46.38 billion and plans to contribute P28.87 million to their nation-building projects on health.  

“The 2016 estimated actual revenue and contributions to nation building are lower than the 2015 actual due to the exclusion of the August to December e-games and e-bingo budget of P3.65 billion,” explained the Pagcor official. 

Pagcor also aims to generate P46.74 billion in 2017 and allocate P29.28 billion to nation building based on their corporate operating budget submitted to the Department of Budget and Management. 

But Quintanilla said the recent shift of Pagcor’s policies on electronic gaming may result to over P10 billion in foregone revenues, leading to a net loss of P .308 billion. (READ: Ongpin offers PAGCOR his P20B PhilWeb shares for drug rehab)

“Despite the possible revenue setback, we are keeping optimism on creating alternative sources of income to ensure that we will continuously generate funds for the government,” said Quintanilla. 

According to Domingo, they are exploring off-shore gaming that will cater to foreigners only. 

They are also in talks with casinos with whom Pagcor has perpetual contracts if they may increase their shares higher than what was specified in their respective contracts. 

“We have called on them and appealed to them that the sharing agreed upon a long time ago are no longer justifiable and no longer fair,” said Domingo.

“Another thing we are looking at is streamlining our organization and our manpower complement so we will be able to cut costs and reviewing all of our marketing costs so that we could maximize the use of funds to generate more wares coming in with the same amount that we’re investing,” she added. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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