MANILA -- The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) is set to release its calamity fund once assessment has already been made by local government units of areas affected by Typhoon Ompong.

“PCSO is here to help our countrymen who were affected by the super typhoon. Every year, PCSO appropriates calamity fund to assist families affected by natural and man-made calamities, just like other assistance we have released before,” General Manager Alexander Balutan said.

Balutan said during calamities, PCSO, through its 64 branches nationwide, assesses first the exact situation in the area, people and families that were affected; and their needs in coordination with local government officials, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and regional rescue teams, to prevent duplication.

“Every year, PCSO allots PHP100 million for calamity fund. But some of the budget was already given to the victims of Mayon Volcano eruption, Typhoon Vinta and fire victims. We cannot determine for now the exact amount to be released. It would depend on the assessment in the area,” Balutan said.

For the first semester of 2018, PCSO has already released PHP48.4 million in financial aid to individuals and families affected by natural and man-made calamities.

Of the PHP48.4 million, PHP35 million were given to the province of Albay during the Mayon Volcano eruption, PHP5.4 million for Region 11 (Davao) and PHP5 million for province of Palawan, both during the Typhoon Vinta; and the rest for the fire victims in Quezon City, Parañaque City, Cebu City, Samar, Manila, Malabon City, and Navotas.

In 2017, PCSO released PHP11.5 million in financial aid: PHP4.5 million of which, was given to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)/ soldiers during the Marawi siege, PHP5 million for the province of Biliran and PHP2.5 million for other provinces in Region 8 (Samar and Leyte) both for Typhoon Urduja victims.

When Cagayan Valley was hit by Typhoon Lawin (International Name Haima) in October 2016, Balutan said 2,000 sacks of rice were distributed by PCSO and the Office of the Civil Defense.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council is the primary office monitoring the rising number of casualties while other government units involved are the Department of Health, DSWD, and local government units.

“We have been coordinating with the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) headed by Usec Ricardo B. Jalad and with the Philippine Red Cross through Senator Richard Gordon on what assistance we can give. PCSO has funds to release after we assess what level, damage, or needs of our calamity victims,” Balutan said.

Balutan noted that in terms of releasing of funds, the agency does not entertain individuals going to PCSO asking for calamity assistance.

“PCSO normally gives cheques or fund to the local government units and they will be the one to decide on what to do with the funds for their constituents... It does not give per family,” he said.

However, if the individual was injured or hospitalized because of a calamity or disaster, he can go to the nearest hospital and request for medical assistance through the PCSO’s Individual Medical Assistance Program or IMAP.

IMAP does not cover doctor’s professional fees and room rates, only medical procedures, medicines, or intensive care unit rates.

The requirement include the latest hospital billing to determine how much assistance PCSO can give. (PNA)