The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) has donated P5-million to the victims of Tropical Storm Vinta on Mangsee Island, Balabac.
The cheque for the amount was personally handed Friday to Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez by PCSO Palawan Branch Manager Orly Batislaong and retired Philippine Marines Corps (PMC) major general Alexander Balutan, who is now the general manager of the sweepstakes office.
Balutan, in a press conference held at the provincial capitol, said the donation was made possible after the PCSO received a copy of the report of Vinta damages, as well as the number of victims, from the provincial government.
“We were given data that we can follow for us to be able to provide our help from Manila. And, we were surprised there because the first report was that the number of deaths was only 37, but a while ago I learned, it’s already 56,” he said.
Not all who perished after Vinta’s onslaught were from Palawan but also from the island provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
“We are monitoring this like how we monitored what happened in Marawi. We gave initially P5-million also there – medicine, water, and ambulance. Now, we have to also move to help Palaweños. And before this, we already had meetings with the local government units (LGU),” he stated.
Under their mandate, Balutan stressed that the amount donated should be used for health services.
“In the case of Vinta’s victims, we will leave the management of the fund to the LGU or the council (Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council or PDRRMC), except of course, construction materials. They are not part of our charter – if it’s the medicine or non-medical equipment, it’s up to the LGU as long as we can liquidate,” he said.
Governor Alvarez, on the other hand, said that if the amount cannot be used for construction materials, there is nothing to worry because the illegally cut logs in a mining company in Ipilan can be used.
“If we can’t use the money for construction materials because it is what’s really needed there, then we will use the confiscated illegally cut logs in Ipilan. I will have them sliced into slabs and bring them to Mangsee,” Alvarez said.
The governor added further that the provincial government has purchased nails, plywood, and woven split bamboo mats (sawali) to be given to Mangsee residents who totally lost their homes.
“Five million is a big help, and we are thankful to the PCSO for its support to the people of Mangsee. We can use them to build toilets,” he said.
Balutan commented there should be no issue in the matter since everything would be related to health.
“Everything is really related to health like they need to build their comfort rooms and that is for health and sanitation, so maybe it’s okay to spend it on construction materials. We can justify it,” he said.