Ex-PAGCOR chief denies 'Baler' malversation raps

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 08 2011 08:53 PM | Updated as of Aug 09 2011 04:53 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) chairman Efraim Genuino has submitted his counter-affidavit in connection with malversation charges filed against him by the current management of the state-owned gaming firm over the alleged disbursement of public funds amounting to P26.7 million for the production of the movie "Baler" in 2008.

Speaking to ABS-CBN News, Genuino's lawyer Ramon Esguerra said there was nothing irregular with the questioned disbursement.

"That is part of the mandate of PAGCOR, to help, pursuant to its corporate social responsibility, as it has done so in the past," Esguerra said.

"PAGCOR engaged in so many projects before of similar situations. Event sponsorships are part of PAGCOR's promotional and marketing program," he added.

Genuino, 12 other former PAGCOR officials, and 14 other individuals were charged for malversation of public funds and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for the alleged joint movie production of VIVA Films and BIDA Foundation of "Baler," one of the official entries in the 2008 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).

The new PAGCOR management claims there is a "direct connection between PAGCOR and BIDA as can be gleaned from the association of the same personalities in both organizations," including Genuino.

However, Esguerra said "there is nothing unusual" about the project because it was approved by PAGCOR's board of directors.

"The board of directors of PAGCOR approved that. There was nothing irregular in the processing and PAGCOR has not been involved in the actual production because the contract was between VIVA productions and BIDA Foundation," he said.

Based on information obtained by PAGCOR, Baler's production cost was pegged at P40 million.

The complaint alleged that the joint movie production agreement between VIVA and BIDA placed the latter's production cost share at 2/3 of the total cost which amounts to P26.7 million, while the remaining 1/3 was shouldered by VIVA.