October 20, 2019
Six months before she took over the reins of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) as general manager, former Cebu City Police Director Royina Marzan Garma already knew she would have all eyes on her following controversies that never let up in and around the agency. She was coming at the heels of a big one as well, with the most recent allegation of graft and corruption reaching the top leadership at PCSO, thus forcing President Rodrigo Duterte to appoint her as re-placement.
Garma still had 10 years to go in her career as a woman in uniform in the Philippine National Po-lice (PNP), but dutifully retired from the force to heed the call of country where she was needed. The post is her very first civilian job.
Originally from Cagayan Valley, Garma secured a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics from Cagayan Colleges Tuguegarao in 1995. She then enrolled at the Philippine National Police Acade-my (PNPA) and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Public Safety in 1997.
Eager to keep learning and building up her credentials, she then secured a Master in Education Management from Rizal Memorial Colleges in Davao City in 2007, thereafter completing her most recent course just this year as Executive Doctor in Leadership from the University of Makati.
Bringing all these to PCSO, Garma ends a highly successful career at the PNP where she served the force for 24 years. Among her notable achievements during this time includes heading the Women and Children’s Protection Desk in Davao City; assuming the post of Chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Davao City Police Office; and Station Commander of Police Stations 1 and 4 of the Davao City Police.
Given her excellent performance across various assignments, Garma was deservingly promoted as Superintendent during the last term of then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte from 2013 to 2016.
Thereafter, she was designated Deputy City Director for Administration and became Acting Re-gional Chief at the 7th Regional CIDG from 2017 to 2018, and finally reached the pinnacle of her career in the force when she became Cebu City’s first woman Police Director in July 2018.
Now as the new leader of PCSO, Garma says her ultimate goal is “to make poor people’s lives bet-ter, the middle class comfortable, and the rich to give more.”
She strongly believes that with this guiding principle, PCSO can make true its promise to the Fili-pino that “Sa bawat pisong tulong, tungo sa pagsulong!”
Now that she has settled into her role as PCSO chief, Garma is all the more ready to fire up a new year of growth and transformation at an agency which can do so much good in society. Innovation is at the forefront of her strategy to achieve much needed changes at PCSO, with her stellar track record in public service — buoyed by transparency, accountability and a higher level of leader-ship — earning her the confidence of the government and those in her care.
In this exclusive interview with The Sunday Times Magazine, the feisty former lady police colonel talks candidly about her personal and professional history, addresses issues already hounding her office and the kind of leadership she believes she must pursue in assuring that the principal gov-ernment agency mandated to raise and provide funds for health programs, medical assistance and services, and a host of other charities endeavors for the Filipino people is fulfilled.
The Sunday Times Magazine: What was your reaction when President Rodrigo Duterte appointed you to the PCSO as general manager?
GM Royina Garma: Six months prior to my appointment I was already aware that I might be ap-pointed as general manager of PCSO. But I just waited for the President to inform me nung malapit na talagang ibigay yung position sa akin. So I am — actually hindi naman happy – but pa-rang I’m glad na ako yung pinili and nandun yung trust, knowing — and I’m sure he’s also aware of — the concerns and issues PCSO was facing during that time na in-announce niya. So yun ang unang naramdaman ko — that I must not fail him. Whatever happens I must not fail him; and I must not fail.
So you have worked with the President for a very long time…
Yes, because I was assigned to Davao City. That was my first assignment and he was mayor during that time when I first reported for duty. Yung career ko kasi halos in Davao City. Even when I was assigned to CIDG, na-assign din ako in Davao. Siguro nakita niya how I worked and how I per-formed there.
How strict are you as a leader?
Parang nag-research ka na, ha (laughs). Yeah, I’m known sa lahat ng offices na pinapasukan ko na istrikto ako. And I implement resistance [to arm-twisting or under the table transactions] talaga, and without favoring [anyone]. I cannot be influenced by anyone. So yun yung style of leadership and management ko since pumasok ako sa PNP.
Remember the time [in 2016] when the President said he wanted to abolish PCSO because of cor-ruption issues? But it seems with your appointment he is hopeful again that the agency can per-form its true function. What can you say about that?
Maybe it’s because everyone is very hopeful din naman na ma-address yung concerns. Remem-ber na PCSO was created way back in the 1930s pa and mag-i-85th anniversary na kami on October 25. So ganun ka-strong and solid yung foundation ng office ng agency, and ganun din kaim-portante yung opisina.
Now, knowing the style of the President when he said, “I will close PCSO,” ibig sabihin lang nun, do not interpret what he said literally. If you know him, ibig lang niyang sabihin, “Malala ang problema n’yo! Gawan mo ng solusyon kasi ganun siya kalala!”
Ganun lang siya, ganun ang ibig niyang sabihin when he said that, so he’s dead serious talaga na “Do something!” Ganun lang ang instructions niya.
This question was already asked of your predecessor at the agency but we would like to ask you the same: Why do you think the President would assign somebody from the military or police es-pecially in income-generating agencies like the PCSO or the Bureau of Customs?
Although alam ko na ito nung hindi pa ako ang humahawak ng PCSO, nung hindi pa ako nag-retire. I also asked him why. Sabi niya, kasi mabilis mag-decide ang mga pulis at military. Second is, risk-taker, ganun. So sabi niya, six years lang ang stay niya sa gobyerno as President. And actually, kung mabagal, six years is not enough para ma-implement yung reforms na gusto niya na ma-implement, yung ipinangako niya sa mga tao. So when I was assigned to PCSO, dun ko rin talaga na-realize na tama talaga siya. He wants things done very fast.
When I got here mabagal nga and it’s not my usual speed. Because sobrang daming rules, like the Civil Service placement of personnel. Everything has to be written in memo [form]. And then they have to leave by 5 p.m., after five it’s OT [overtime] na. Sabado is overtime, Linggo is over-time, a holiday is overtime.
How different were things then when you were still in the PNP?
Nung pulis kasi kami, wala eh. Kung hindi mo matapos by 5 p.m. you have to stay until tomorrow if needed. You have to finish everything. Dito hindi, so nanibago ako and I’m sure nanibago rin yung mga AGMs [assistant general managers]. Kasi kaya nga may nag-comment na masyado raw akong impulsive when I decide, it’s because I’m used to deciding quickly talaga – ora mismo. Dito, memo muna (laughs), parang ganun.
Sabi ko, do I need to put that in a memo? It’s routine, inherent siya sa work. Nasanay kasi kami sa police na you can decide on the spot. Even an ordinary policeman, PO1, once na nasa kalsada ka you have to make decisions. Hindi ko na tatawagin ang chief of police ko, “Hello, legal ba ang ga-gawin ko, huhulihin ko ba ito?” Sa police, pag nandun na, gawin mo na yung tama. Dito [you ask], tama ba gagawin ko? Dito pag gagawa ng contract, tatanungin ko muna lawyer ko, si OGCC [Office of the Government Corporate Counsel]. Yung pinaggalingan kong organization, you have to do it, basta legal, tama, you do it na – now na. Yun yung nabago.
Is this your first time to be in a corporate position?
My first job was at the PNP, and this is my second job (laughs).
So you really had to make major adjustments…
Nakikita ko lang yung corporate [setting] pag nanonood ako ng telenovela. Ah, ganun pala siya (laughs).
When President Duterte stopped STL operations and the Keno game because he suspected cheat-ing, how much did it affect the revenues of PCSO for its charity programs?
Of course, when the operations were suspended, nakaapekto yun – may losses ang PCSO. But I think nung nag-resume na, things became better. Yung suspension was just temporary to correct lahat na dapat ayusin.
Kasi during that time, ang daming problema ng STL; ang daming AACs (Authorized Agent Corpora-tions) na hindi nagbabayad ng dues at may mga na-implement na policies na hindi consistent sa contracts at sa IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations). So ako, tama lang na i-hold para i-review.
Same with Keno, it was losing in terms of prize fund, so nagkaroon ng restructuring sa price and sa lease. So ngayon, kumikita na ang PCSO. May mga ganun na dapat ayusin na kung hindi niya pina-hold parang wala lang – sige na lang, hintayin na lang malugi, bahala nang mali. So this time, na-optimize namin what is due [to the] government because of the suspension of the games and the lifting of the President.
What can you say about prevailing reports that the PCSO is earning large sums but only on paper, so that actual collection figures don’t match figures on paper?
Yes, that is true. On paper parang ang laki ng income ng PCSO but ang dami ngang underneath that, and that’s from STL. You see, even if STL pays, malaki pa rin ang effect ng taxation. Kasi ang naiiwan sa PCSO is around 40 percent lang from the total gross revenue.
What concerns a lot of people is how this situation affects the Individual Medical Assistance Pro-gram (IMAP); what can you say about that?
Actually, IMAP is not the only program of PCSO. We have many programs related to medical and health concerns like ambulance donation, but the most popular is IMAP. Of course, we used to give a really big amount before taxation was required for PCSO. Malaki talaga ang puwedeng ib-igay, but because of taxation naapektuhan yung IMAP fund namin. May fund pa rin even if meron kaming contribution sa Universal Health Care, but for the other programs, medyo tinanggal namin kasi nag-focus kami sa IMAP.
And yung ambulance donation, nandun pa rin siya. Yung mandatory contributions namin sa ibang ahensiya, because we are mandated under the law, tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang bigay namin, including sa sports and shares of LGUs sa lotto and STL. Likewise sa PNP and NBI, tuloy pa rin yung pagbib-igay namin. Yung sa Ilocos, we just turned over the last contribution namin sa Philippine Crop In-surance amounting to P42 million.
There had been discussions in Congress on why PCSO is taxed when it generates income for chari-ty. What is your take on this?
We already submitted to Congress and nag-lobby kami to exempt PCSO from taxation, sa docu-mentary stamp tax. We hope Congress will also consider our request. Kailangan din siguro ang lobby ng citizens, pagtulung-tulungan kasi nga apektado rin ang medical assistance program at ang daming nagre-request ng ambulansiya, ng sponsorhip sa programs ng welfare and charitable institutions. Bumaba talaga ang binibigay namin.
Moving on to less major questions, since this is just your second job and your first corporate job, how do you relax from all the stress that comes with the office?
Parang walang time. Honestly, even in my sleep, nasa isip ko si STL at saka si Lotto. Lotto because expired na [ang contract] and we are finalizing the terms of reference so medyo stressful yun.
Madali lang i-address [the continuing Lotto operations] if I want to just patch it up for two years and ma-survive ko lang – madali lang gawin yun. But I’m not looking two or three years lang, eh. I’m looking beyond the term of the President, that when the President leaves – siyempre co-terminus lang ako – maiiwanan ang PCSO na masasabing the games are owned and controlled by PCSO.
So yun yung tinitingnan kaya napaka-ambisyosa ko (chuckles). Kaya ako nai-stress kasi I’m not on-ly working on the two years term but I’m looking beyond or up to 10 years.
To meet your goals, what innovations and changes have you started to institute at PCSO given the full trust of the President?
I’ve already started kung ano ang gusto kong mangyari dito sa PCSO. On my first day, I said I want-ed transparency so we launched the Hotline, yung “Ipaalam Kay GM,” and I received a lot of in-formation that’s why sometimes my decision-making is affected because I have to base it on the complaints or make those as my guide.
Although the year given is over to implement the rationalization plan for PCSO, which I think is on its seventh year, we need to implement it fully now. So nabulabog when I terminated all the con-tracts of confidential agents and job orders. I [also] directed HR to place the personnel kung saan sila dapat, based on their plantilla. So nagkaroon ng reaction from the personnel, but you see, if you are going to implement a plan which was approved six years ago, pero hindi siya fully imple-mented, magkakaroon talaga ng negative reaction. Ganun talaga if you introduce change. I don’t care, sabi ko, because kailangan talaga ayusin. May matutuwa niyan, meron talagang hindi matu-tuwa. Ganun talaga yun. Sabi nga, damn if you do, damn if you don’t. It takes guts lang talaga to implement, as long as tama siya. May ganun akong style.
Next is yung game rebranding natin because of the confusion ng lotto and STL draws namin, which was effective October 1 sa renaming, rebranding of the product from Swetres and EZ2 to 2D and 3D and yung STL Swer2 and Swer3, para hindi ma-confuse ang public sa kanilang tinatayaan. And then yung strict implementation ng STL IRR nitong 2019. So yung strict collection what is due for PCSO this time. Sabi ko, walang pakiusap, everything in the contract we have to follow. Yun yung ginagawa namin ngayon. Looking forward, I hope for the Lotto, matatapos namin yung bid para may bagong system tayo. And then for now, I directed Gaming [Sector] to come up with terms of reference on how we will accommodate proposals on how we can discover new games and how we conduct test runs for all those offers. In fact, there are around seven new games submitted already, so I directed Gaming to come up with terms of reference so all of them can be accommodated.
Have you looked beyond your tenure at PCSO in terms of what you intend to do careerwise?
I cannot go back to PNP. Sana kung may government office na puwedeng pasukan after [my term here in PCSO], bakit hindi, pero sana related sa police work. Yung law enforcement-related yung work.
What if a position at the Philippine National Police Academy opens for you, like dean perhaps?
Naku, kawawa naman yung kadete (laughs). But puwede because I have a masters in Educational Management.
But seriously, kung hindi na ako babalik magtrabaho I will just focus sa hobby ko – which is mag-tanim, mag-garden in Davao, in Catalunan Grande. Yun ang gusto ko, hindi para sa income o yumaman. Sa akin, just to focus on my hobby, in case after this wala nang work. We’ve started planting trees including durian five years ago. Magiging farmer ako after this!
Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net