Ex-PAGCOR officials charged with plunder

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 11 2011 12:24 PM | Updated as of Jul 12 2011 06:48 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), through its chairman Cristino Naguiat Jr., filed plunder charges Monday morning against ex-PAGCOR chairman Efraim Genuino and 40 others before the Department of Justice(DOJ) for the alleged misappropriation of some P186-million from 2003-2010.

The 127-page complaint stems from the alleged misappropriation of the funds of the state-owned gaming firm in favor of BIDA Foundation, Inc. and other entities.

"The filing of this case today is a testament of our commitment to the public and to our employees that we will come out with the truth, and we will go after those who have committed wrongdoings against PAGCOR in the past," Naguiat said.

Also charged are former PAGCOR Board Members Rafael Francisco, COO and President; Manuel Roxas, Philip Lo, Danilo Gozo, Imelda Dimaporo, Ester Laconico Feria, Susana Dumlao Vargas, incumbent National Telecommunications Commission(NTC) Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba; Jose Benedicto(former chief of staff); Rene Figueroa(former executive vice-president); Edward King(former VP for Corporate Communications and Serviced Department); Atty. Carlos Bautista Jr.(former VP for Legal Department); Ester Hernandez(former VP for accounting); Valente Custodio(former AVP for Internal Audit); Atty. Jesselyn Durante Cuizon(former asst. manager of Legal Department); Erwin Genuino(former executive asst. of Legal Department); and former PAGCOR consultants Mario Cornista, Rodolfo Soriano Jr., Tomas Toledo, and Emilio Marcelo.

BIDA Foundation incorporators/members also charged include Jesus Velmonte, Cornelio Valerio, Nicanor Roxas, Michael  Nisperos, Arnold Garchitorena, Angelo Tesoro, Jose Salindong, Johnny Tan, Philip Beltran, Luis Guerrero, Carol Matsuda, Olive Soriano and Josephine Sumangil-Evangelista.

Sheryl Genuino-See, Genuino's daughter and first nominee of the BIDA party-list, was also charged.

BIDA incorporators Manuel Nocon, Jr., Dennis Celeste, Ronald Tagayon, Adriano Velmonte, Rafael Torcuator and Anna Maria Espiritu, who are also incorporators of Wildformat and/or Pencil First, were also charged. These entities reportedly "got heftily paid by PAGCOR."

Naguiat said the new PAGCOR management "has uncovered numerous irregular and anomalous transactions which were approved by the previous PAGCOR management favoring the Batang Iwas Droga(BIDA) Foundation, Inc., BIDA Production, Wildformat, Inc. and Pencil First Inc."

The complaint said "respondents purportedly conspired with each other to repeatedly and systematically siphon off PAGCOR funds into the coffers of BIDA entities, or to projects intended to boost the popularity of BIDA foundation and/or the personalities behind it" from 2003-2010.

"They were approved or executed in violation of PAGCOR's internal procedures, they did not go through public bidding which is a requirement of Republic Act 9184, and they violated COA rules. The questionable transactions also involved disbursements of public funds in favor of a private and/or registered political party," Naguiat said.

These transactions are reportedly in connection with the "procurement of goods and services for BIDA Foundation projects, financial subsidies and grants for BIDA, and advertisements on various radio television shows and networks, which were all paid by PAGCOR" that "involved amounts that significantly exceeded the sum usually granted to other entities or individuals for event sponsorships or financial assistance."

"Worse, they received staggering amounts of money in increased frequency which was rarely done at all," he said.

One instance involved P14.72-million allegedly processed in one day, on February 27, 2008.

Violations to the Procurement Law were also allegedly violated.

"There were several occasions when PAGCOR purchased and directly paid for the goods or services to suppliers without the benefit of competitive bidding," Naguiat said.

"Records show that PAGCOR paid P14.42-million for BIDA pins, BIDA cards, tarpaulins and other collaterals to BIDA Production. Said materials were mostly used for the BIDA caravan. On top of that, PAGCOR also paid BIDA Production P14.15-million for the event management, creative design and production of BIDA Foundation's Maligayang Barangay, Maagang Pasko 2005 and Pinakamaligayang Barangay 2006 projects."

The biggest alleged misappropriation, according to PAGCOR, was the misappropriations made for BIDA from December 2008 to June 2010.

"During this period, the PAGCOR Board headed by Genuino approved the disbursement of PAGCOR funds to defray BIDA ad placements on various mainstream tri-media channels and networks, with majority of these being made on TV and radio."

The total amount allegedly disbursed by PAGCOR to pay for BIDA ad placements from December 2008 to June 2010 reached some P63.1-million.

"The placements were obviously intended or designed to increase the exposure and popularity of the BIDA Foundation in time for the 2010 national elections," PAGCOR said.  

BIDA Foundation was granted accreditation by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in November 2009 as a regional sectoral party in the National Capital Region(NCR) for the purpose of participating in the May 10, 2010 party-list elections.

PAGCOR said in spite of the granting of its petition as a party-list group, the "Genuino-led PAGCOR Board continued to approve financial benefits and privileges in favor of BIDA."