By Jel Santos
The first branch of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was opened on Monday.
Alexander Balutan, PCSO general manager, said the branch is at Puluan District Hospital in Maguindanao. It is the agency’s 64th branch in the country.
“This is the first PCSO branch opened [in] the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in line with our mission to bring our services closer to the public and to be present in every province. That’s why our target is to put up one PCSO branch every province,” he said during the opening ceremony.
The agency’s general manager, a former Marine general who spent 20 years in Mindanao, said that he knew exactly what the conflict-affected areas of Mindanao needed badly apart from infrastructure projects and education.
“They need basic health services and immediate medical support from the government. They need to feel the government’s presence through PCSO,” Balutan disclosed.
Remeliza Gabuyo, Branch Operations Sector assistant general manager, said the governor of Maguindanao was very accommodating, saying he even provided a free space to house PCSO’s 64th branch.
“Madali namang nag-open ang PCSO branch dahil very cooperative naman si [Maguindanao] Governor Esmael Mangudadatu. They even provided for a free space to house our Maguindanao branch kasi ang magbi-benefit naman are constituents of Maguindanao. They will not go to South Cotabato anymore or to Davao City to travel just to avail of our charity assistance and all other services,” she said.
She, meantime, said Maguindanao has potential for gaming.
PCSO said their main office gave P1 million endowment fund to PCSO Maguindanao Branch.
“It is a one-time assistance pero kapag na-liquidate immediately, we will again evaluate them for another assistance,” Gabuyo said.
She said that for now, only Davao Province has At-Source-Ang-Processing (ASAP) Desks in their hospitals, but the agency is eyeing to tie up with hospitals in Maguindanao through this endowment fund.
HOW TO PUT UP A PCSO BRANCH
Bong Solmerin, Office of the General Manager deputy spokesman, said a local government must send first a letter to the PCSO to put up a branch.
In the letter, the local government must state that there is a need to establish a branch in their area.
After receiving a letter of request, the PCSO will then assess the need for a branch in their area.
“They have to send a letter to PCSO saying there’s a need of a branch in their area. The PCSO will then check,” he said.
Once validated, Solmerin said, the agency will then ink a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the local government.
“After validation, MOA signing between the PCSO and local government will follow. The branch will then be put up,” he said.