FOR Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office General Manager Alexander Balutan, the last Christmas party of the 1,500 employees of the PCSO was not lavish.
During the public hearing of the House committee on good government, Balutan said the P6.4 million budget for the party is not extravagant as compared to the hardship of the employees in attaining the revenues of P52 billion for 2017.
Balutan reported that the revenue of the PCSO in 2017 reached P52 billion which is more than the target of P30 billion a year.
Board member Sandra Cam, who turned emotional yesterday, had complained about the lavish party.
According to Balutan, the original proposal for the party held in Shangri-La on December 19 was P14 million. However, they were able to reduce it to P6.4 million.
“Siguro nga may karapatan din sila na kahit papano mamantikaan ‘yung nguso nila at katawan nila, makatikim naman ng aircon dahil mahihirap din po itong mga empleyado and they deserve that,” Balutan, a former Marine general, said.
“Kung titignan natin anong ginawa nila sa isang taon, ilang bilyon ang kanilang naiakyat so it’s a booster for the morale and welfare of our employees,” he added.
Balutan further explained to the members of the committee that the amount is reasonable considering the increased cost of food and other expenses.
Cam showed the committee a copy of itemized expenses of the party.
The crying official said that she sacrificed herself to expose this lavish party.
Part of the expenses is the P16,389 the PCSO spent for the thanksgiving mass held on the same day of the party.
The chairman of the committee, Rep. Johnny Pimentel, said the expense for the mass is a violation of the Constitution because public money cannot be used for Church activities.
“The chair agrees that this is a waste of government money. I can see that there has been a violation of existing laws. First, you can’t use government money to give to the Church,” he said.
Pimentel proposed an audit report for the party to determine if the expenses were unlawful.