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PAGCOR confirms P185-M intel funds diverted to GMA's 'pork barrel' in 2010

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The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) on Tuesday confirmed reports that some P185 million intelligence funds of the agency were transferred to the President's Social Fund, commonly called the President's "pork barrel", during the last few months of the Arroyo administration.

PAGCOR Chief Cristino Naguilat Jr., at the budget hearing of the agency by the House appropriations committee, said that more than half of the corporation’s P350 million intelligence funds in early 2010 were remitted to then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s pork barrel.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares said that the P185-million intelligence funds were supposed to be released to two "lucky" congressional districts -- Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado "Dato" Arroyo and then Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo -- by then PAGCOR chair Ephraim Genuino through vouchers.

The vouchers, however, were cancelled after people within the agency "smelled something fishy," he said.

"According to reports, because the vouchers were cancelled and can no longer be given to these lucky districts, what PAGCOR did was to remit these sums of money to the President’s Social Fund with the intention of giving these to lucky districts," said Colmenares.

The President’s Social Fund (PSF) was created during the time of former president Ferdinand Marcos to require the PAGCOR to remit a portion of its earnings to support the president’s development projects.

The PSF was under the control of the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) during the administrations of the late former president Corazon Aquino until the administration of deposed president Joseph Estrada.

On March 15, 2002, however, then president Arroyo ordered the funds transferred to the Office of the President through Memorandum Order No. 56. The PSF was reported to be P1.09 billion at the time of the transfer.

On July 14, 2010, President Benigno S. Aquino III, through Memorandum order No. 1, has reverted to the PMS the handling of the PSF.

Naguilat, however, could not say if the P185 million were eventually released to the two "lucky" congressional districts.

"The only thing that we have is what we remitted to the Office of the President. We do not know how they disbursed that amount of money," he said.

As such, Colmenares requested the current PAGCOR chair to check with the PMS if the funds were "indirectly" disbursed to these two "lucky" districts.

"We are rumbling here about a few thousand pesos given to so and so, but hundreds of millions of pesos were used for election purposes. These are untransparent ways of spending a lot of money," he said.

"We must know how the funds were discharged," he added.

Naguilat said he will write to PMS Secretary Julia Abad to look into the matter (disbursement of P185 million intel funds).

Colmenares said he hopes that the PMS can immediately furnish Congress records of disbursement of the fund, "as this could constitute not just a violation of election laws but of plunder as well for both President Arroyo and former PAGCOR chairman Ephraim Genuino."

Under the law, the mere taking of more than P50 million constitutes plunder, he said. (Lilybeth G. Ison-PNA)




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