Kidney patients die after PCSO stops financial aid

Published by rudy Date posted on May 9, 2011

Around 31 kidney patients have either died or in their worst health conditions after the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) allegedly withdrew their previously approved requests for financial assistance, according to a former official of the cash-rich charitable institution.

Speaking at the launching of the book “Lost Vision” of former Quezon City Rep. Matias Defensor at Club Filipino last week, former PCSO Chairman Manuel Morato claimed the agency, now headed by Chairman Margie Juico, has also turned down financial aid sought by poor patients suffering from Stage-4 cancer.

Morato, who headed PCSO during the term of former President Fidel Ramos and was appointed as a director of the agency by former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, said Juico “cancelled all” requests for financial assistance that he had endorsed to the 31 end-stage renal disorder patients who have already found donors for kidney transplant.

“Huwag na daw tulungan ang mga may cancer na Stage-4 na, tutal mamamatay na din daw naman,” Moratro said of Juico’s decision.

To this, the former PCSO said he replied, “Margie, don’t you believe in miracles and in modern medicine? Magagamot pa ang mga iyan.”

Morato also claimed the present PCSO board has been scrimping on charity funds, usually denying appeals for assistance for medical expenses over P20,000.

“They should stop playing with people’s lives. Hundreds die because they could only offer P5,000, P10,000 and maximum of P20,000 to very sick people,” he said.

A PCSO official, who asked for anonymity, admitted Morato’s complaints could be attributed to the agency’s “arrears that have reached a level that made it impossible” for certain hospitals to cover.

He cited the National Kidney Transplant Institute (NKTI) where, he said, a number of dialysis patients with previous guarantee letters for medical treatment from PCSO “have also died” because the hospital has started rejecting the requests since last year.

The official said the agency has embarked on a cost-cutting measures “in view of the PCSO’s still precarious financial condition.”

But he admitted PCSO “won a windfall profit” when it offered over P700 million jackpot prize in last year’s biggest lotto draw, reportedly won by a “balikbayan” from the United States.

Informed of the issue, Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay called on Juico to explain the agency’s position on Morato’s exposé.

“If true, the present PCSO board should review the agency’s mandate and not let partisan politics interfere with its reason for existence which is to extend assistance to the poor and the needy,” Magsaysay said.

Established in 1935 by the late former President Manuel Quezon, PCSO is mandated to raise funds and provide additional revenues through numbers games or lotteries for the promotion of public health and general welfare, handling billions of pesos in charity funds to be extended to people in distress, especially those needing medical assistance. –Charlie V. Manalo, Daily Tribune

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