PCSO: Daang Tinuwid
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-10-30
State institutions that are oozing with funds like the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) become a magnet for the insatiable and the brokers of evil designs. The worst of this occurred in the PCSO during the term of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA). Eventually, auditors discovered the anomalous diversion and misuse of P366 million intelligence funds and GMA and the officials and members of her PCSO Board have been charged and ordered detained for plunder.  

When President Benigno S. Aquino III (P-Noy) appointed the new PCSO Board headed by Margie P. Juico in August 2010, the new officers and members swore to uphold the highest standards of honesty, transparency and commitment to sound corporate governance and ethics. In just three years, the new Board of PCSO can proudly announce what few government institutions, with the exception perhaps of the Department of Public Highways under Secretary Rogelio Singson, had done in such a short time.

PCSO, under Chairman Margie Juico and General Manager Joy Rojas, has damned the torpedoes and went full throttle. What they have accomplished are easily checked and verified.

One of the profound changes at the PCSO has been in giving dignity and respect to applicants for assistance at their clinic. Margie Juico introduced a numbered queuing system to ensure that no one is given preferential attention. Social workers assist these applicants and help them with the processes, including filling up forms and directional guidance.

It used to take months to obtain the valuable guarantee letters of PCSO which patients need in order to get the treatment their health conditions require. Now, it only takes four days.

Hospitals used to be reluctant to accept PCSO patients because it took as long as six months or more before they can get paid. This has changed dramatically. Hospitals now welcome PCSO patients and this in turn has given these patients the respect and dignity that they so particularly need in their time of affliction.

To enumerate a few more accomplishments that had remained unknown to many:

1. The old Board now charged with plunder has left billions of pesos in tax liabilities and unpaid obligations. Settling these liabilities became first priority and to date, the present PCSO board is nearing full tax compliance.

2. The anomalous practice of commingling prize, operations and charity funds in violation of the PCSO charter was corrected. Funds are now properly segregated, accounted for and audited to safeguard against misuse.

3. Keeping its focus on maximizing efficiency of service to its charity beneficiaries, PCSO retooled their finance and accounting system to shorten the time it takes to pay for the medicines of patient-beneficiaries. By shortening the payment period to only 45 days from the previous six months, PCSO had successfully persuaded pharmaceutical companies to reduce prices by 20% of the market price. This translates to more funds to help more PCSO patients.

When the new Board took over, they cut nearly half a billion pesos worth of annual TV advertising. It was argued that the output of honest work, commitment and dedication would beat the output of an advertising campaign. When you gather a group whose hearts are in the right place, the changes will be profound.

It was as eminent journalist Sheila Coronel had described it — “If you fight corruption, corruption fights back.” Soon enough, issues were muddled and the old familiar bylines and media characters identified with paid demolition campaigns came out of the woodwork. The new PCSO Board came under intense fire.

Unfortunately, unscrupulous elements can easily peddle false information and malicious accusations to the minds of the benighted and the under informed. Where there are gullible news consumers, there’ll be deceivers on the prowl. This accounts for all the bad reviews that have been directed at the new PCSO Board headed by Margie Juico.

Alas, our media have this addiction to scandals, crime, conflicts — especially in showbiz and politics — that they’ve altogether neglected their bigger mission, which is to inform and enlighten. Our media have copped out from their main mission and are dishing only what most people want, and not what people really need. Luckily, lies and half-truths are eventually exposed in this information age. Given enough time, the facts eventually emerge and penetrate public consciousness.

The positive developments in the PCSO is a reflection of the leadership of P-Noy, something that’s also observed and noted in foreign media. Philippine country rating has been improving under P-Noy and foreign media had credited this to P-Noy’s campaign for good, clean governance.

Honest leadership begets honest followers. You cannot imagine the new PCSO Board thriving and surviving under a corrupt president who is perpetually scanning the environment for easy pickings. The new PCSO Board succeeded because they worked under the principles of DAANG MATUWID (straight path).

In our country, where the culture of corruption has embedded itself firmly in the nooks and cranny of government, trying to change that culture to one of honest efficiency and commitment is an arduous uphill climb. All Filipinos should get involved in this endeavor of their president.

Every centavo and peso saved by clean governance translates to more funds for education, nutrition and health care. Clean governments provide more housing benefits and opportunities for every Filipino to aspire for a better life.

* * *

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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