Realign PAGCOR funds to support health and education

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 05 June) — President-elect Rodrigo Duterte vowed Saturday to realign all revenues of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to programs that will support health and education.

Speaking before a crowd that the police estimated at 300,000 during the “One Love. One Nation” thanksgiving party” at the Crocodile Park, Duterte said he would prioritize health and education by committing  all earnings of PAGCOR to give Filipinos more access to medicine, hospitalization, and education.

Maguindanao Provincial Hospital. MindaNews photo taken (Sept. 4, 2015 by . MindaNews photo by FERDINANDH B. CABRERA Maguindanao Provincial Hospital in Datu Hoffer town. MindaNews photo taken Sept. 4, 2015 by . MindaNews photo by FERDINANDH B. CABRERA

“There’s so much misery in the country.  Ang masakit kasi we really have the money if we just collect it and spend it correctly,” he said.

Duterte cited the Bureau of Customs and Bureau of internal Revenues as two income-generating offices where corruption thrives – an estimated P300 million daily at the Customs and around P200 million at the BIR.

He estimated a total of P1.5 billion to P2 billion lost to corruption daily in these two agencies and other government agencies.

On education, Duterte said he would push for the construction of national high schools to bring education closer to Filipino students, so that they will no longer have to walk for 20 to 30 kilometers.

“Dito sa edukasyon, I will endeavor to build… if there are about 25 to 30 students in your barangay, then you will have a national high school, no need to walk for 20 to 30 kilometers to go to school. Ako na mismo magdala ng eskwelahan” (I will bring the school to your areas), he said.

He added that more budget allocation for education should address the “aberration created due to K to 12” that students might have to stop schooling and teachers risk losing their jobs during implementation this schoolyear.

Duterte said he already talked to incoming Education Secretary Leonor Briones to iron out the issues.

“I have to sit down day-to-day. Nagsugod nako og solbad sa problema (I’ve started solving the problem). I cannot solve the problem when I am already there. Magiging inutil ako, so I have to do it now,” he said.

While the President-elect acknowledged that government spending is necessary to keep moving forward, he warned public officials to maximize the use of the budget up to the last centavo.

“If you are a department and I give P30 billion … at the end of the year, yung PhP 30 billion must be spent to the last centavo,” he said, adding if PhP 30B is given and only PhP 25B is spent, “saan yung PhP 5B” (where’s the PhP 5B?)

Duterte said the department must be like a bank teller, who, when audited at the end of the day, can account for the exact amount, not more and not less. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)