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P186-M plunder raps filed vs ex-PAGCOR chair Genuino, 40 others

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The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) filed on Monday before the Department of Justice (DOJ) plunder and graft charges against former PAGCOR chairman Efraim Genuino and 40 others for alleged misappropriation of P186 million in relation to questionable transactions that benefited BIDA Foundation Inc. and other entities between 2003 and 2010.

PAGCOR chairman and chief executive officer Cristino Naguiat Jr. signed the 126-page complaint-affidavit filed before the DOJ in behalf of the state-owned gaming firm.

“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.

Aside from Genuino, also charged were former PAGCOR board members Rafael Francisco, chief operating officer and president; Manuel Roxas, Philip Lo, Danilo Gozo, Imelda Dimaporo, Ester Laconico Feria, Susana Dumlao Vargas, and Gamaliel Cordoba.

Cordoba is now the Commissioner of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

Also named respondents in the plunder charges were former PAGCOR officials Jose Benedicto, chief-of-staff; Rene Figueroa, executive vice president; Edward King, vice president for Corporate Communications and Services Department; Atty. Carlos Bautista Jr., VP for Legal Department; Ester Hernandez, VP for Accounting; Valente Custodio, AVP for Internal Audit; Atty. Jesselyn Durante-Cuizon, assistant manager of Legal Department; Erwin Genuino, executive assistant of Legal Department; former Pagcor consultants Mario Cornista, Rodolfo Soriano Jr., Tomas Toledo, and Emilio Marcelo.

Likewise charged were BIDA Foundation incorporators/members, namely 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.

Genuino’s daughter Sheryl Genuino-See, who was the first nominee of the BIDA party-list, was also included in the plunder charge.

Other respondents are Manuel Nocon Jr., Dennis Celeste, Ronald Tagayon, Adriano Velmonte, Rafael Torcuator, and Anna Maria Espiritu who were incorporators/members of BIDA Production, Wildformat and/or Pencil First.

These three entities rendered creative and advertising services for BIDA and were allegedly heftily paid by PAGCOR.

Naguiat said that since his assumption in office last July 2010, 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.”

Documents obtained by Pagcor showed that from 2003 to 2010, the 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.”

The Batang Iwas Droga (BIDA) Foundation was a party-list candidate which lost in the 2010 national elections.

Aside from Genuino’s daughter Sheryl, other nominees of BIDA were Johnny Tan and Emilio Marcelo, who are both respondents to the PAGCOR plunder charge, Lamberto Barbin, and Dennis Villa-Ignacio.

Naguiat said that the BIDA-related transactions can be deemed highly irregular or unlawful due to several reasons.

“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 No. 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.

The said transactions pertained to the procurement of goods and services for BIDA Foundation projects, financial subsidies and grants for BIDA, and advertisements on various radio and television shows and networks, which were all paid by PAGCOR.

Naguiat said that the disbursements for the BIDA entities “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.”

There was even an instance when multiple BIDA grants were made in one single day.

“This happened on February 27, 2009, when four BIDA Foundation grants amounting to P14.72 million were processed,” Naguiat said.

Likewise, also clearly violated was the Procurement Law, he said.

“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 showed that PAGCOR paid P14.42 million for BIDA pins, BIDA ID cards, tarpaulins and other collaterals to BIDA Production.
The said materials were mostly used for the BIDA caravan.

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.

However, one of the biggest misappropriations made for BIDA happened from December 2008 until 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,” Naguiat said.

The total amount of money disbursed by PAGCOR to pay for the BIDA ad placements from December 2008 to June 2010 amounted to 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, Naguiat said.

On August 12, 2009, BIDA Foundation filed before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) a petition for registration as a regional sectoral party in the National Capital Region for the purpose of participating in the May 10, 2010 party-list elections.

In their petition, BIDA listed as its major contributions to the anti-drug campaign the March 21, 2009 Grand Bida March, the 13-episode animation series on BIDA’s advocacy, and the BIDA campus tours from 2008 to 2009 wherein 40-page full color comic books were distributed.

All of these efforts, including printing of collaterals, were funded by PAGCOR.

BIDA’s petition was granted by the Comelec on November 18, 2009.

Despite acquiring the status of a political party, the Genuino-led PAGCOR Board continued to approve financial benefits and privileges in favor of BIDA.
“In fact, they still authorized the payment of at least P2.5 million for BIDA advertisements aired after the BIDA Foundation was already registered and declared as a political party,” Naguiat said.

On March 31, 2010, the Comelec published a list of political parties/sectoral organizations/coalitions participating in the Party-List System for the May 10, 2010 elections with their respective nominees. BIDA was 119th on the list.

Naguiat said that “there is obviously a glaring conflict of interest because they were officials of PAGCOR during the time that these transactions were consummated, and they got huge donations from the government agency they worked for.”

Naguiat noted that Genuino, Francisco, Benedicto, King, Cornista, Soriano, Marcelo and Toledo who were all previously connected with PAGCOR also appeared in the official papers of BIDA Foundation as members of the Board of Trustees during the period that PAGCOR disbursements for BIDA were overflowing.

The web of connection between PAGCOR and BIDA officials did not stop there, Naguiat said.

“Some of the respondents from the BIDA side were given premium PAGCOR contracts and concessions. For instance, Johnny Tan was a PAGCOR coffee concessionaire and bingo operator, Carol Matsuda became owner and operator of a PAGCOR VIP Club and supplier of an energy drink in the casinos, and Rodolfo Soriano Jr. became a proponent for several PAGCOR VIP Clubs,” Naguiat noted. (Perfecto T. Raymundo Jr.-PNA)

 




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