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Thursday, April 26, 2018

PCSO ENFORCES TRANSPARENCY TO CURB CORRUPTION

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LEGAZPI CITY (Apr 25) - In its campaign to gain people’s trust and confidence and end corruption, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Gen. Manager Alexander Balutan sees to it that the agency is transparent in all its sales and accomplishments.

In his statement during the program orientation and coordination conference for PCSO’s I-Hope Program on April 18 in Sultan Kudarat Balutan disclosed that “
“Gusto kong makita ninyo kung ano ang kinikita ng PCSO, kung saan niya ginagastos, anong proyekto, ilan ang beneficiaries na natulungan niya, at ‘yung mga ambulansya na nai-distribute. Sabi ko nga, kung ganito lahat ng ahensya, mababawasan ang corruption dito sa Pilipinas.”

The I-Hope (Integrate Health for Overall Productivity and Empowerment) program was conceived in an effort to achieve Strategic Measure under the Performance Agreement Negotiation (PAN) with the Governance Commission for GOCCs Strategic (GCG).

The program aims to implement responsible and efficient fund provision for health and charitable programs of the government and to provide access to charity services identified by the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC).

Last year, Maguindanao, Sulu, Lanao del Sur, and Saranggani provinces became beneficiaries of this program. This year, PCSO has identified Sultan Kudarat, Biliran, Basilan, and Tawi-tawi to receive P50 million each for the equipment upgrade.

 “I see to it that every quarter, I report to the Filipino people kung ano ‘yung kinikita ng PCSO. So that our gaming public, especially ‘yung sineserbisyuhan natin magkaroon ng tiwala, ng confidence sa ating gobyerno, kasi ngayon, walang ng dilawan, wala ng kulay. Mapa-puti, mapa-itim ka diyan, blue, ano mang kulay diyan, seserbisyuhan natin,” Balutan said.

According to Balutan, he signs cheques every day for more or less P22 million intended for the poor and indigent patients who are requesting for financial/medical support.

Requests vary from hospitalization, chemotherapy, dialysis, implant/transplant, to any medical services, except room, rent, and doctors’ professional fees.

“Kung meron kang PhilHealth, unahin muna ‘yun. Kung meron kang medical insurance or Senior Citizen’s discount ka, ibabawas muna doon,” explained Balutan.

To relive the patients from personal appearance in PCSO Main Office in Mandaluyong City or its extension office at the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City, Balutan advised patients to go directly to PCSO ASAP Desks located in partner-hospitals nationwide.

“May desk ang PCSO diyan kung saan doon ipo-proseso ang inyong application. Ang hinihingi lang, medical abstract, letter of request, and latest hospital bill,” said Balutan.
  
Aside from ASAP Desks, patients can also go to PCSO branches located nationwide.
“’Yung mga branches natin sa PCSO, may mga pondo ‘yan. General Santos City, for example, has a P350,000 per day, P50,000 of that is for Sultan Kudarat. Inuubos ‘yan araw-araw,” said Balutan.

Balutan revealed that Davao del Sur, Pampanga, and Nueva Ecija have P800,000 budget per a day, but it can be increased depending on the number of patients, especially poor and indigents who have really no means to pay.

“In PCSO, we generate our own funds and not appropriated by Congress. All our generated funds come from the gaming public. We have our products such as Lotto, Sweepstakes, and STL,” said Balutan.

He also reminded the local government units to support PCSO products, especially STL, in line with the directive (Executive Order No. 13) of the President to curb illegal gambling nationwide.

Before assumption of office as general manager in 2016, Balutan said there are only 50 PCSO branches and 18 Small Town Lottery (STL) players nationwide. At present, there are 63 PCSO branches, 87 partner-hospitals through the At-Source-Ang-Processing (ASAP) Desks, and 84 STL players. (PCSO)

Friday, April 20, 2018

DELGRA SACKS LTFRB-BICOL REGIONAL DIRECTOR

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LEGAZPI CITY (Apr 20) – Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Martin Delgra removed LTFRB Regional Director Jun Abrazaldo and installed retired Police Sr. Supt. Vladimir Casper Kahulugan as new Bicol LTFRB Chief.

In his speech during the installation ceremony, Delgra said that Abrazaldo failed to comply with his commitment to follow the directives of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte against corruption. "I have received numerous complaints about corruption in LTFRB-Bicol and Abrazaldo was given a chance, we have a one-on-one talk, but nothing happened”, said Delgra. However, Delgra refused to give details on the alleged corruption issues against Abrazaldo.

He said that the very basic policy on franchise has been violated and pointed out that the franchise is free. Delgra said that since there is no turn-over of records, he ordered Dir. Kahulugan to conduct an audit from the time Abrazaldo took the helm of LTFRB-Bicol up to the present.

Dir. Kahulugan also appealed to the public to help him serve the Bicolanos 24/7. He said that he is available anytime, and anywhere to attend to any concern relative to his functions to serve the riding public.

In an earlier interview, Abrazaldo accused Delgra of harassment despite of his relentless campaign against colorum buses, vans and public utility jeepneys. He said that he was not given due process.  (Mar de la Cruz with reports from Luence Burce Barcena)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

4PS BENEFICIARIES TO RECEIVE CASH GRANTS THIS APRIL AFTER A MONTH-LONG DELAY

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LEGAZPI CITY (Apr 18) - The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Bicol clarified that the delay of release of cash assistance to 4Ps beneficiaries in the Region was due to the seven-day extension requested by the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) to download the funds to its partner conduits that are responsible to directly release the cash grants to the beneficiaries. This was disclosed by DSWD 4Ps Information Officer Glorei Lindio in an interview with DZGB News Wednesday.

The pay-out which was supposed to start last April 17 will be rescheduled on April 24. The cash assistance that will be received by the beneficiaries on the said re-scheduled date covers the month of January 2018 along with the education grants which includes P500 for children in High School or P300 for children in elementary, health assistance amounting to P500.00, rice subsidy amounting to P600.00. Also, it includes the assistance for the Unconditional Cash Transfer Program (UCT) amounting to P2,400 (200.00 per month) for the whole year (January – December 2018).
  
In an earlier interview this month, DSWD Regional Director Arnel B. Garcia said that the agency is saddened about the delay of pay-out. “We understand the clamor of beneficiaries for not receiving their cash assistance on time. At this point, we ask for the patience of our beneficiaries and we ensure that the cash assistance meant for them will be received by the beneficiaries themselves.”

Lindio also added that, the cash assistance for the month of December 2017 is set to be included in July 2018 pay-out which includes the cash assistance for the months of April – May 2018.

For the cash assistance for Months of February to May 2018, it will be released in accordance to its scheduled pay-out but can be subject to change upon advisory of DSWD Central Office. (Mar de la Cruz/GLindio-IO-4Ps)

Thursday, April 5, 2018

COMELEC BEGIN BARANGAY AND SK ELECTIONS 2018 INFORMATION DRIVE

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LEGAZPI CITY (April 5) – The filing of the Certificate of Candidacy for those who intend to run for the May 14 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Elections is scheduled on April 14-20, 2018, said ARD Atty. Romy Serrano. The election period will start April 14 to May 21.

In an interview with DZGB News Thursday, positions to be voted for the Barangay Elections are: one (1) Chairman, and seven (7) Sangguniang Barangay members while for the SK are: one (1) Chairman, and seven (7) members.

Qualifications of candidates are: Filipino Citizen, resident of the barangay not less thatn one (1) year before election day, can read and write Filipino, English and other local dialect, not convicted for the crime involving moral turpitude. For SK election candidates, other than qualifications mentioned above, candidates must be 18 but not more than 24 years old on election day and NO incumbent elected relatives (within 2nd civil degree of consanguinity or affinity) in national, regional, provincial, city, municipal, or barangay official in the locality where he/she intend to be voted.

ARD Serrano said that there are three (3) groups that will be voting in the Barangay and SK Elections 2018: those who are 15-17 years old – who will be voting  exclusively for the Sangguniang Kabataan elections;  those who are 18 years old – who will be voting for both the Barangay  and Sanguniang Kabataan elections; and those who are 31yearls old  and up, who will be voting exclusively for the Barangay elections.

The 15-17 years old voters will only have ONE ballot – the SK ballot, the 18-30 years old voters will use BOTH the Barangay and SK ballot, the 31 years old and up voters will use only  the Barangay ballot. The SK ballot  is clearly marked with  the words  “Sangguniang Kabataan” in red ink.

The Barangay and SK Elections will be a fully manual elections – vote counting machines will NOT be used. (Mar de la Cruz)

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

SSS OPENS NEW LOAN RESTRUCTURING PROGRAM 2018

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LEGAZPI CITY (April 4) - The Social Security System (SSS) here announced Tuesday,  that their office started receiving applications for the new Loan Restructuring Program (LRP). The program with penalty condonation will be available from April 2 to October 1. 2018.
                
According to SSS-Legazpi Information Officer Jeannette T. Mapa in an interview with DZGB News, the re-implementation of the loan restructuring program will cater those borrowers who were unable to avail the LRP offered in April 2016 to April 2017.

Member-borrowers who have past due loans like Salary, Calamity, Emergency Loans, Education Loan (old), Study Now Pay Later Plan, Voc-Tech, Y2K, and Investments Incentive Loans  will have a chance to pay without the penalty. Borrower can opt to pay the loan in full or by installment depending on their capability to pay, Mapa added.

The interest and penalties of the outstanding loan will stop and no longer incur on the condition that the borrower should pay diligently on the agreed schedule of amount according to the restructured loan program, otherwise the interest and penalty will again continue.

SSS members who will soon retire, but with outstanding loan should avail this loan condonation program so that it will not be deducted from the SSS retirement benefit. Borrowers can’t do away with the loan payment because it will be deducted from their final benefit such as total permanent disability, retirement, and death.

Mapa said that borrowers who have approved LRP in 2016 to 2017, members with final claim prior to the  LRP availment period, and  those who committed fraud against SSS are disqualified from  the program.

LRP  applicants should bring with them a duly accomplished LRP Application form which can be downloaded from SSS website (www.sss.gov.ph) and two valid identification cards. 
Meanwhile, Chief Executive and SSS President Emmanuel F. Dooc, said that the loan condonation program offered by the SSS isn’t only beneficial to the borrower-members but also to the other members. In fact, the fund generated during the LRP conducted in April 2016 had benefited thousands of individual member-borrowers and pensioners. (Mar de la Cruz)

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

PCSO TO ENHANCE STRATEGIES TO INCREASE SALES

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LEGAZPI CITY (April 3) - Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) General Manager Alexander Balutan said on Monday the agency through its Gaming Sector will not be introducing a new game this year, but it will revitalize and enhance instead its existing games to increase sales revenues.

“We have to innovate in our strategies to enhance our existing lottery games such as Lotto in connection with Tax Reformation for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law. So we don’t see the need to introduce a new lottery game at this time although this is part of our strategy to increase our revenues,” Balutan said.

Due to the implementation of Republic Act 10963, otherwise known as the TRAIN law, effective April 1, 2018, a final tax of 20 percent shall be imposed on Small Town Lottery (STL) prize winnings exceeding P10,000. 

The 20-percent rate shall be computed on the basic of the full amount of the prize winning. The imposed 20-percent Final Taxes on the prize winnings shall be remitted daily to PCSO. 

A separate “Summary of Winners” subjected to the 20 percent Final Tax shall be prepared on a weekly basis and be submitted every Tuesday by all STL-Authorized Agent Corporations to PCSO.

A consolidated report of the “Summary of Winners” shall likewise be prepared on a monthly basis and be submitted within five days following the end of every month.

The 5-percent Prize Fund Tax shall no longer be remitted to PCSO in lieu of the Final Tax.


In an interview, Gaming Technology Department Officer-in-Charge Aimee De Viterbo said her department and the Gaming Sector have started discussing strategies to innovate the games.   

“The introduction of the TRAIN law is very challenging for PCSO because right now, we are already bleeding. Ang laki-laki na ng taxes kaya very challenging siya on how you will implement the law at the same time,” Viterbo said.

Under the TRAIN law, a 20-percent tax will be imposed on winnings of more than P10,000 from Lotto, Keno, Small Town Lottery (STL), Sweepstakes, and other PCSO products. 

However, it removed the corporate tax exemption on the charity agency. 

Apart from the Corporate tax, PCSO pays the Documentary Stamp tax and Prize Fund tax which increased from 5 percent to 20 percent.

De Viterbo said that while the sales of lottery and other number games were not yet affected of the TRAIN law, that is because PCSO has not yet fully implemented the changes. 

In fact, Lotto sales and other games posed a 2.81 percent increase with reported overall sales of P5,384,844,980 in January and February compared to the sales of the same months last year. 

“Hindi man lumiit ‘yung ating bettors, ‘yung capacity to play bumaba. Before, they used to play P30, tatlong taya na ‘yun. Nung ginawa nating P20, isang beses na lang. Hindi na siya makadalawa kasi ‘yun lang kaya niyang i-spend sa lotto,” said De Viterbo.

PCSO is currently studying how to balance the new tax law and how they can effectively implement it that will benefit both stakeholders.

 “That’s why we are bleeding because we are shouldering everything except for the tax being imposed on the lottery winnings. Kapag ipapa-shoulder naman natin sa bettors natin ‘yung documentary stamp tax, from P20.00 magiging P24 siya. Eh ‘yung migration na lang namin from P10.00 to P20.00 medyo lumiit,” de Viterbo said. 

In a formal survey conducted in 2005 in Zamboanga City, De Viterbo said they asked about 100 respondents if they are willing to play lotto if the P10 play will be lowered.

“They answered yes. It was followed by how much are they willing to spend? To which they answered P5.00 at that time,” she said. 

“If you estimate that today, siguro mga P10.00 na lang ang kaya nilang i-spend. But that depends maybe on the area because Zamboanga City is poor,” she explained.“It is our only hope that the Congress will repel the law to exempt PCSO from tax.” (PCSO)