House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Karlo “Ang Probinsyano” Nograles said on Thursday that the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) should reconsider its plans to recall ambulances from LGUs that fail to meet the requirements for donated vehicles “because people especially in the countryside will suffer if emergency medical attention is denied or diminished.”

The Davao City lawmaker proposed that LGUs be allowed to retain the vehicles but erring local officials who misuse the ambulances should be prosecuted for graft.

“Erring local officials who misuse the ambulances should be prosecuted for graft.”

PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan revealed during the ongoing budget hearings in Congress that common complaints regarding the agency’s donated vehicles revolve around misuse such as demanding patients to shell out money, using the vehicles for personal use, or adding various markings and designs on the vehicle’s body, typically showing the names and faces of LGU officials.

The PCSO chief added that “Sinusulatan po namin yung mga mayors na kapag may magreklamo at mag-accumulate ito, we can pull out. Inilalagay po namin sa MOA, sa aming kontrata ang ganung sitwasyon.”

Nograles pointed out, however, that recalling the vehicles would prejudice and compromise crucial medical services.

“Recalling the vehicles would prejudice and compromise crucial medical services.”

The lawmaker instead strongly suggested that the PSCO go after the local chief executives of the towns, cities, or provinces who violate their memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the agency.

“File the appropriate charges against them,” Nograles insisted.

The Appro Committee head likened PCSO’s intended pullout to jailing thousands of innocent people while the guilty perpetrators remained scot-free.

“Kawawa po ang mga kababayan nating probinsyano na umaasa sa mga ambulansyang ito kapag may kaanak silang dapat itakbo sa ospital. Hindi puwedeng mawala ang mga ambulansya.”

Before the PCSO donates an ambulance to an LGU under a signed MOA, the latter must first show that it is capable of maintaining the vehicle as well as provide a driver and fuel for its operations.

The PCSO is the principal government agency tasked with raising and providing funds for health programs, medical assistance and services, and charities of national character.

Funds are generally sourced from government-regulated games of chance such as the Sweepstakes, Lotto, and Small Town Lottery (STL).

“We fully support PCSO’s efforts at transparency and good governance. However, we sense that its proposed solution to MOA violations with LGUs is too drastic. It will create more problems than solutions. Let’s retain these donated ambulances,” Nograles stressed.


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