'We are not in cahoots with PAGCOR,' says Roberto Rosales
MANILA, Philippines - A police official has welcomed an investigation into what might be the world's most expensive hamburger purchase per person, P21 million ($452,000) worth of fastfood from McDonald's and Jollibee purchased by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) and apparently consumed by 15,000 policemen in just 8 days.
In an interview with [email protected] on Monday, Roberto Rosales, director of the Philippine National Police (PNP) National Capital Region (NCR) admitted signing a certification to acknowledge the food assistance from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) but said he had no knowledge that the purchases totaled P21 million.
He said the certification merely confirmed that the food provisions were received and consumed by PNP personnel deployed to rallies.
Rosales said the money never went to PNP and all assistance given by PAGCOR are in the form of food.
"What is coming out is that we are in cahoots with [PAGCOR]. We never handled any money, we never handled any check. All the assistance to our policemen were all appreciated and we thank PAGCOR for all the assistance that was given to us," he said.
An ABS-CBN News report said the release of the check was endorsed twice by former PAGCOR senior vice president Edward King.
In his memoranda dated May 13 and June 16, 2010, King said the P21 million was for PNP "activities and operations in line with its thrust to provide security to the population."
The P21 million check was the total amount of 28 official receipts from McDonald's issued on January 15, March 11, April 5, April 14, May 4, May 12, May 13 and June 3.
The main office of the fastfood chain, meanwhile, confirmed the orders which it categorized as "large food orders."
Supposing that a 2-piece chicken and the most expensive hamburger were indeed ordered, this would amount to a budget of P250 per police officer or a total of 24,000 orders for both food items.
The PNP has only 15,000 police officers, which means the orders are in excess of 9,000.
New PAGCOR Chairman Cristino Naguiat earlier called for a probe into the P21 million check, which a resigned employee under former PAGCOR Chairman Ephraim Genuino had attempted to encash last July 1.
The new PAGCOR board is also questioning why the check was issued on June 28, 2010 ahead of the certification from the PNP on June 29, 2010.
"Titignan natin lahat ng anomalya na nangyayari, mga midnight contracts, at tignan kung nasa lugar ba ito. Kung kailangang ipagpatuloy o kailangang ilagay sa korte, kung may mga dokomento against people who ran the Pagcor previously," Naguiat said.
"I just can't imagine how they ate P21 million worth of hamburgers," he added.
PAGCOR officials said they will summon those linked to the issue, including former senior vice president Edward King, former president and chief operating officer Rafael Francisco, and a certain Pedrito Adao, a resigned PAGCOR employee who tried to encash the P21 million check.
"Kung halimbawa lumabas sa imbestigasyon na meron silang kinalaman, meron silang responsibilidad at culpability sa batas, e hindi mangingimi si Chairman Naguiat, kasama ang board of directors ng PAGCOR na kasuhan ang dapat kasuhan," said PAGCOR chairperson Jay Santiago.
The PAGCOR is also seeking help from the NCRPO to check police records.
"Kung nakarating naman sa kanila yon at nagamit yon, walang problema. Ngayon, kung malaman din natin kung ika nga, hindi naman nakarating lahat iyon at maaring nagamit sa ibang bagay, malalaman natin na hindi sila nagagamit o nagiging kasangkapan sa mga ganitong gawain," Santiago said.
ABS-CBN tried to contact those linked to the issue, but they were not answering our text messages and calls. -- with a report from Jing Castañeda, ABS-CBN News