Drilon: Selling gov't assets like PAGCOR, PCSO to provide more funds for COVID-19 response

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 12) — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asked economic managers on Sunday to review state assets that may be sold off immediately to generate funds for the COVID-19 crisis and counter the growing budget deficit because of the pandemic.

Among the state assets Drilon mentioned are the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

The senator cited Finance Secretary Dominguez's statement in the department’s budget hearing last year, where he said the government could collect around ₱300 billion in fresh revenues yearly with the privatization of the gaming industry.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Audit reported last year that PCSO has yet to remit ₱8.4 billion to the government. It was also found to have waived ₱1.43 billion in claims from STL agents.

“As I said before, the government does not have to look far to raise additional revenues. There are ‘low-hanging fruits’ the government can immediately tap to provide the much-needed resources for our country to survive this pandemic,” Drilon said.

Drilon said that under the GOCC Governance Act, which he authored, the President may amend the charters of state-owned corporations without going to Congress.

The lawmaker also warned that social and health packages and other programs will suffer in the long run if the country’s widening budget deficit will not be addressed.

Dominguez previously said that the budget deficit will increase from 3.2 percent to 5.3 percent, as the country will be spending more than collecting taxes and revenues amid the pandemic.

READ: Economic team plots recovery plans after 'zero growth' this year 

“I hope our economic managers will move faster on this this time, because the effects of COVID-19 pandemic will go beyond 2020,” Drilon said.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said he will sell government properties if funds for fighting the virus run out.

READ: Duterte eyes selling govt. properties if funds vs. COVID-19 not enough 

With this, Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman suggested auctioning off golf courses in Camp Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, Villamor Air Base, and the Veterans Memorial Medical Center.

These golf courses have a total area of approximately 150 hectares of prime real estate and could fetch a total of over ₱150 billion, Lagman said.

However, not all assets like the land occupied by Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame both in Quezon City could be sold by the government.

Ortigas and Co.’s deed of donation for both camps states they will be returned to the developer if the government decides to use the properties for purposes other than what was originally intended for.

Meanwhile, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Sunday there’s no need to sell any properties if the government still has money to spend.

“In fact, pinapakita ng... pinapakita ng datos na marami pa tayong hindi nagastos nga for 2019. Iyon na muna iyong unahin. Hindi naman kailangang magbenta kung mayroon pa namang gagastusin,” explained Robredo in the weekly radio show ‘BISErbisyong Leni,’ which she co-hosts with anchor Ely Saludra.

[Translation: The data shows we still have a lot of unspent funds for 2019. These should be used first. There’s no need to sell (government assets) if there are funds that can still be spent.]