By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay on Monday urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to immediately extend aid to workers affected by President Duterte’s order to suspend the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office’s (PCSO) gaming operations.
Binay noted that more than 120,000 workers were affected after law enforcers started closing down more than 30,000 lotto stations and gaming outlets nationwide over the weekend.
Binay said DOLE can extend its Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers” (TUPAD) program, and assist them in securing employment while they are waiting for the President to address the anomalies in the state gaming agency.
“DOLE can step up and help. The staff of these PCSO gaming outlets have families they need to take care of, and any immediate assistance from DOLE is a big help to those who suddenly lost their jobs,” she said in Pilipino.
The senator said that under the program, DOLE can extend emergency employment for 30 days with a minimum pay of P300 per day. Each beneficiary could earn around P9,000 for one month.
She said DOLE’s 30-day Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program was created exactly for the purpose of providing assistance and alternative means of employment to displaced workers.
While it is still unclear when the President will lift the suspension order against PCSO gaming operations, she said it is best that DOLE intervenes and assists the displaced workers.
As of July 29, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported that it has closed down more than 30,000 gaming outlets.
But if each outlet has an average of four employees, with more than 30,000 franchise stations closed, Binay said “we’re looking at a minimum of 120,000 displaced workers.”
The lawmaker also said she expects the DOLE to have started coordinating with the PCSO to track its outlets and the number of employees involved.
Binay said that in Small Town Lottery (STL) alone there were more than 300,000 workers employed, based on the PCSO’s 2018 accomplishment report.
Meanwhile, the PCSO announced that the Individual Medical Assistance Program (IMAP) services will still be available unless instructed otherwise.
“[O]ur Individual Medical Assistance Program (IMAP) services at the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City and all PCSO Branch Offices nationwide will still be available today onwards, unless otherwise instructed,” PCSO general managerRoyina Garma said.
PCSO records show that through IMAP, the agency had provided almost P3 billion or a sum of P2,816,760,148 to indigent Filipinos from January to June 2019.
The money from PCSO is from its Charity Fund, which is accumulated from its games, especially Lotto. PCSO said that 30 percent of the total revenue of Lotto goes directly to the Charity Fund. (With a report from Jel Santos)