MANILA, Philippines - Former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) chairman Efraim Genuino denied there was any anomaly in the agency's large food purchases for policemen in the National Captial Region who are tapped to provide security during rallies.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Genuino said the P21 million food purchases with fast food firms such as McDonald's in the first half of 2010 covered not just a few days but a total of 6 months.
He said PAGCOR never made it a secret that it was donating food to the PNP, which can only provide a a daily P30 food allowance for each police officer whenever they are deployed in the field during rallies.
Genuino said that each receipt mentioned in the news reports reflected the total number of orders that were made each time there were rallies or gatherings that the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Metro Manila had to respond to in the first half of the year. He said PAGCOR's assistance to the police has been going on for the last 6 years.
"Di lang pati sa Presidential Security Group. Para yan masecure natin ang presidente, masecure natin ang mga pulitiko sa Batasan. Kasi pag nagutom ang mga pulis natin, sino magbabantay sa kanila?" he said.
Genuino dismissed talks that PAGCOR would have earned more if it had not been wasting funds, which, he said, was what news reports are implying.
"Kahit saang imbestigasyon, handang-handa kami. Alam mo ba kung baket? Kasi every year, nagco-conduct ng exit conference ang Commission on Audit, parang imbestigasyun rin yun. Lahat ng transaksyon namin tinatanong ng COA, at saka merong pre-audit at post audit pa," he said.
Genuino said the previous PAGCOR administration was being subjected to trial by publicity, with the accused not being given the chance to air their side.
He said the new administration of PAGCOR should not be suspicious of employees associated with him, adding that these people should be given a chance to perform.
The former PAGCOR chief is willing to talk to the new chairman, Cristino Naguiat, to clarify the issue.
Edwardo King, former spokesperson of PAGCOR, and who is still employed with the company, said he is willing to cooperate in any investigation.
"Above board naman lahat ng transactions namin sa PAGCOR. We are very much willing to face an investigation. So far wala naman e," King said.
The new PAGCOR spokesperson Jay Santiago said there is a growing perception that there were other parties that benefited from the P21-million accumulated transactions.
"Considering the magnitude or volume ng dami ng pagkain, may mga reports kaming natatanggap na ito ay nagamit pa sa ibang aktibidades na hindi naman involve ang kapulisan during the six-month period," " said Santiago.
He added that PAGCOR will investigate if all of that amount went to food donations for the PNP.
"Ang nakaka-alarma kasi e ang laki ng halaga, na allegedly ay inabonohan ng isang tao, at ngayon ay babayaran na ng PAGCOR," Santiago said.
Genuino also doused accusations that PAGCOR funds and facilities were used in the May 10 elections, where his daughter, Sheryl, ran under the party-list Batang Iwas Droga or BIDA, which he created.
He said PAGCOR deleted the party-list as a beneficiary of PAGCOR when his daughter accepted the offer to represent the group.
Genuino also responded to criticisms about PAGCOR's highly-paid consultants under his watch.
He said this strategy allegedly helped PAGCOR increase its revenues. He said it is now up to the new management if they want to continue the services of these consultants. -- reports from Alvin Elchico and Jing Castañeda, ABS-CBN News