By Genalyn Kabiling
Workers affected by the closure of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) gaming operations are probably not that poor and have savings to tide them over, according to a Palace official.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said these workers have earned profits in the past operations and could endure the temporary suspension of the games pending a corruption inquiry.
“I’m sure ‘yung mga naapektuhan, hindi naman sila ganoong kahirap. [Probably not. I’m sure those affected are not that poor],” Panelo said during a news conference at the Palace.
“Marami naman silang kinita during those times na they were operating so I’m sure mayroon silang pondo to live by [They earned a lot during those times they were operating so I’m sure they have funds to live by],” he added.
When asked if the government has any intervention to help the PCSO lotto outlet workers, Panelo initially said: “Sa ngayon wala [For now, there is none].”
Asked where the affected workers will get alternative livelihood, Panelo said: “Hindi naman siguro walang-wala sila ngayon. Pangalawa, eh noong wala pa naman ang mga outlets na ‘yan eh nabubuhay pa naman sila [I don’t think they have absolutely nothing now. Second, they were able to get by when there were no outlets then.”
Pressed for the government aid for the displaced workers, Panelo finally gave an assurance that they would provide assistance to these affected individuals. “The government will not discontinue providing assistance,” he said, without giving details.
Panelo also said the “human spirit” of the Filipinos to overcome any challenge should not be underestimated.
He claimed that the people were able to survive before they became PCSO lotto and other gaming outlet workers.
“Bakit noong hindi pa ba sila empleyado hindi sila nabubuhay? Do not underestimate the human spirit of Filipinos. ‘Pag may dumarating na storm o anumang sakuna o anong mga bagsak sa ating buhay, nakakaahon naman tayo [Weren’t they able to live when there were not yet employees? Do not underestimate the human spirit of Filipinos. When there is a storm, calamity or challenge in life, we are able to survive],” he said.
“‘Yan ay pansamantala lamang [This is just temporary]. The President wants to rid massive corruption and he has to do something about it. We have to do with what the President has done,” he added.
Panelo however expressed hope that these workers would not shift to the illegal numbers games such as jueteng for employment.
“Eh illegal iyon eh, baka lalong may problema sila kung pumasok sila roon [That’s illegal. They may face problems if they get involved with that],” he said.