Tag Archives: Department of Foreign Affairs

PCSO cuts medical assistance budget

From a more or less P20 million daily budget, beneficiaries of the medical assistance program of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) would have to make do with P4.1 million only from now on.

The PCSO’s charter mandates it to allot 55 percent of its revenues for prizes, 15 percent for operational expenses, and 30 percent for its “charity fund.”

During the first quarter of the year, it has earned a total revenue of P15.98 billion from Lotto, Keno, Sweepstakes, and Small Town Lottery (STL)—an increase of 28.24% from the agency’s revenue during the same quarter in 2017—and has helped some 120,356 patients nationwide.

In May especially, 37,186 patients have benefited from the PCSO’s Individual Medical Assistance Program (IMAP). About 13,376 of these sought hospital confinement; 12,132 requested medicines; and 4,305 had chemotherapy.

But the PCSO had an “overutilization of medical assistance funds,” PCSO deputy spokesperson Florante Solmerin has been quoted saying in a report. It has already exceeded the IMAP budget by P500 million for the first semester of 2018 compared to its 2017 data of the same period. The PCSO would have to change the manner on how it provides medical assistance,” PCSO charity assistance department (CAD) head Dr. Larry Cedro has concluded in the same report “as this may result in problems with the Commission on Audit (COA).”

More or less 40 percent of these funds “have been gobbled up by “mandatory contributions,” too. Ten percent of this has to go to the “Comprehensive and Integrated Shelter and Urban Development Financing Program” by virtue of the Republic Act No. 7835 or the National Shelter Program. Executive Order No. 357 also mandates the PCSO to allocate 5 percent of the charity fund for local government units.

Other “mandatory contributions” would go to the Philippine Sports Commission Program, Commission on Higher Education, Documentary Stamp Tax, Shared Government Information System on Migration (SGISM) under the Department of Foreign Affairs, Crop Insurance Program, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples for the Ancestral Domain Fund, Museum Endowment Fund, and Dangerous Drugs Board.

“We need to do this or else we will go back to the issue of ‘overutilization.’ As a general rule, you only operate within your budget. Simply put, we can only give what we have,” Dr. Larry Cedro

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Puso ng Pamilya


The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) is a government-owned and controlled corporation under the direct supervision of the Office of the President of the Philippines.

In Metro Manila, its government-run partner-hospitals include Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center, Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, East Avenue Medical Center, Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center, Justice Jose Abad Santos Hospital, Las Pinas General Hospital and Satellite Trauma Center, National Children’s Hospital, Ospital ng Muntinlupa, Philippine Children’s Medical Center, Philippine Heart Center, Quirino Memorial Medical Center, Rizal Medical Center, San Lazaro Hospital and Tondo Medical Center.

In the country’s provinces, meanwhile, the government-run partner-hospitals are Batangas Medical Center, Bulacan Medical Center, Davao Regional and Medical Center, Mandaue City Hospital and Southern Philippines Medical Center, while partner-private hospitals are Brokenshire Integrated Health Ministries Inc., Castro Maternity Hospital and Medical Center and Dela Salle University Center.

There are private partner-hospitals that could accept PCSO aid. These are the Asian Hospital and Medical Foundation Inc., Capitol Medical Center, Cardinal Santos Medical Center, Delos Santos Medical Center, FEU-Dr. Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation Medical Center, Hospital of the Infant Jesus, J.P. Sioson General Hospital and Colleges Inc., Makati Medical Center, Manila Doctors Hospitals, Manila Med (Medical Center Manila), Mary Johnston Hospital, MCU-FDMTF Inc., Metropolitan Medical Center, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, St. Jude General Hospital and Medical Center, St. Luke’s Medical Center-Global City, St. Luke’s Medical Center-Quezon City, St. Martin de Porres Charity Hospital, UE-Ramon Magsaysay Medical Center and Victor R. Potenciano Medical Center.

Meeting Pope Francis: A PWD’s Experience

It was on a drizzly Sunday morning.

Wearing a white shirt—the color assigned to persons with disabilities (PWDs)—I braved the January sky hoping to see personally the head of the Roman Catholic Church since 2013. Of course, one may argue (as I myself would) that seeing a pope is just another act of religion. Still, I tried to see Pope Francis in either of his visits in the Philippines from January 15 to 19.

It had not been easy; I have moved to the United Arab Emirates right after my college graduation. To add to the ‘problem’ is the possibility that not only one person would want to see him. There’s also his tight security and—of course—my disability.

So I wrote to my editors Karl Kaufman and Veronica Pulumbarit; to the members of the Papal Visit Central Committee; to every affiliated organization of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in Facebook; to the priests and their respective parishes listed in the website of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila; to the papal visit website; to the CBCP Media Office; and to the Manila Cathedral.

Only nine replied to me, however: the Department of National Defense (DND), the Episcopal Commission on Youth (ECY), the Saint Andrew the Apostle Parish, the San Antonio de Padua Parish, Magsimba.com, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Radio Television Malacanang (RTVM), and the Manila Cathedral.

The Department of National Defense, the Saint Andrew the Apostle Parish and the San Antonio de Padua Parish have acknowledged my letter but regretted that they cannot help me. The ECY Secretariat pointed me to the Archdiocese of Manila. Magsimba.com suggested that I wrote to my parish priest and ask him to refer me to a bishop. There might be a chance if he would be the one to refer me. I did that but got no reply again.

Both the MIAA and DFA gave me the contact details of Archbishop Socrates Villegas. It was also the DFA who suggested that I write to the Apostolic Nunciature of the Philippines.

The Manila Cathedral also replied to say that it is not in-charge of the would-be guests. The Commission on Youth of the Archdiocese of Manila said it has only limited information. The Apostolic Nunciature directed me to the Central Preparatory Commission of the CBCP.

I also communicated with Bishop Antonio Tobias and Fr. Antonio Labiao, the bishop of Novaliches and the director of the Diocesan Pastoral Office respectively. There had been a report that each archdiocese and diocese was asked to send at least five PWDs from their respective jurisdictions during the mass at the Luneta. Much as I do not want to take advantage of my plight, I grabbed the chance and wrote even to the administration of the San Roque Cathedral. I may be a resident of Quezon City at the present but I have lived in Caloocan for almost 20 years.

Neither of them replied, though, as well as Msgr. Edgardo Pangan, the president of the Canon Law Society of the Philippines.

Then two days before Christmas, I received an email from Fr. Jade Licuanan of the Archdiocese of Manila. He told me he was the one who asked Ms. Maria Luisa Garcia of the Commission on Youth of the Archdiocese of Manila to contact me. I could get into the event that will be held at the University of Santo Tomas! Pope Francis will be addressing the youth there. What just remains uncertain was how far or how near I will be from the stage.

Then two days before the papal visit, Fr. Licuanan informed me that I could be in the section where PWDs like me would be. How joyous had that been! I reached the venue—all because I was accompanied by my mother (who I call my “human tungkod”), my two aunts, and my two cousins. There was also a woman who tried to make a way for me through the packed crowd, a man who helped me ‘jump’ off the sidewalk, and another who let me ‘squeeze’ in between two posts.

Unfortunately, I got drowsy after the rain began to fall. It was only dropping occasionally before the program started but poured continuously as soon as Pope Francis spoke. Probably, too, waking up at 1:30 in the morning and walking from the ‘Welcome Rotonda’ roundabout to the UST grounds have finally taken its toll on my body and I could not do anything more about that.

It had not been upclose even. There were two rows and a flight of stairs between Pope Francis and me. My mother and I tried to move upfront but, since I am not on a wheelchair, we were advised to go back to our original lane so I would not be easily shoved if ever Pope Francis goes down.

But a line from Pope Francis’ message still stood out: To think, to feel, to do. I used to wonder if I really have been ‘lucky’ because I’ve experienced what it’s like to be normal before becoming a ‘full-pledged’ PWD. I’m now sure that I really have been.