Duterte fires OGCC chief over casino permit

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 28 2018 07:03 PM | Updated as of May 28 2018 08:38 PM

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte has fired Government Corporate Counsel Rudolf Philip Jurado for supposedly overstepping the bounds of his authority in connection with the granting of a 75-year-old permit to a casino operator.

“May I call the government corporate counsel now? Are you here? Because if you are here, come out. You are fired,” Duterte said in a mix of Filipino and English in a speech in Malacañang.

The President said he fired Jurado because he detests gambling.

“I do not need you and maybe you do not need me. APECO was granted a franchise, freeport and everything, and there’s always that accompanying provision about gambling,” Duterte said.

“I don’t like it. I had a very bad experience about gambling when I was young.”

Duterte fired Jurado amid reports alleging irregularity in the legal opinion he issued allowing the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone to approve a 75-year permit to a casino operator and also grant permits in areas outside the Aurora Economic Zone but within those controlled by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.

“When you are granted a franchise to conduct gambling in a certain facility, it does not include farming out that franchise to other cities and provinces,” Duterte said.
 
“If you do that, then you can ramble on, following your theory, to give permits beyond the shores of Luzon and you can do it in Siasi, Jolo.”

Duterte said by overstepping the bounds of his authority, Jurado acted as if he was part of the state gaming firm Pagcor.

“And I have been trying to be patient with everybody. But there are always that opportunity to interpret a law or insist in your stupid proposition until the problem gets out of hand,” Duterte said.

“There are many lawyers there. There are thousands of lawyers waiting for an opportunity to work in government.”

Jurado, in a statement, said he accepts Duterte's decision. 

"I accept and respect our President's decision. As an appointee who serves under his pleasure, I am honored to have been given a chance to serve under his administration," he said.

Jurado also denied any irregularity involving his legal opinion. He has accused his subordinates of stirring up controversies against him.