MANILA, Philippines - Some lawmakers are not too keen anymore on another investigation against officials of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) in connection with the bribery charges raised by a foreign casino firm.
House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said Pagcor chairman Cristino Naguiat Jr. already deserves to be supported for pursuing the $5-billion Entertainment City project.
“As far as I can remember, the committee on games and amusement had a hearing and no less than the panel chair (Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing), together with his members, cleared Chairman Naguiat. If ever the resolution seeking another probe reaches committee chair Amado Bagatsing, I’m sure he knows what to do,” Belmonte said in a statement.
Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Teddy Casiño filed a resolution before the House committee on good government and public accountability to investigate Naguiat and other Pagcor officials in connection with the allegations raised by United States-based Wynn Resorts.
Wynn filed a lawsuit against its estranged business partner, Japanese casino magnate Kazuo Okada. The latter allegedly violated the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act when he spent $110,000 on Naguiat and other officials to ensure that plans for a casino here will push through.
Okada allegedly billeted Naguiat and his family in Wynn Macau’s most expensive suite for five days in 2010. The suite is supposedly priced at $6,000 a night.
Naguiat already denied the bribery charges.
Bagatsing, for his part, said Casiño’s resolution looks like “forum shopping.”
In clearing Naguiat and other officials, Bagatsing earlier said: “There is no impropriety here. We are falling into the trap and machinations of Mr. Steve Wynn whose main objective is to oust Okada from his casino firm.”
“I hope we will get the picture right, that Mr. Naguiat was a collateral damage,” he said.
Belmonte said the country should not let the intra-corporate battle get in the way of bolstering the country’s revenues from casino operations.
“I am supportive of Pagcor’s Entertainment City project. It will definitely boost our country’s tourism…This will bring much more fun in the Philippines, in terms of tourist arrivals and gaming revenues for the Philippine government,” Belmonte said.