Plunder raps sought vs ex-Pagcor chair, other officials-A A +A
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
MANILA -- The Department of Justice (DOJ) ordered Tuesday the filing of graft and plunder charges against former officials of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) for a series of alleged funding anomalies.
In three separate resolutions, the DOJ found probable cause to indict former Pagcor chairman Ephraim Genuino and 25 of his alleged cohorts with violation of plunder law, 175 counts of malversation of public funds, and 174 counts of violation of the anti-graft law in connection with the P186-million illegal donations, purchase of P26.7-million worth of movie tickets, mislabelling of rice donations worth P3 million and misuse of Pagcor funds amounting to P44 million.
The cases were referred to the Office of the Ombudsman for review.
The resolution on illegal donations, as approved by Prosecutor General Claro Arellano, stated that the systematic charging of donations and subsidies in favor of Genuino's Batang Iwas-Droga (Bida) Foundation to intelligence cash advances and its subsequent reclassification as ordinary operating expense in 2009 almost became the norm during the former chairman's management of Pagcor.
Aside from intelligence cash transactions, evidence showed that despite the non-compliance with the procedures and regulations, Genuino and respondent Pagcor directors repeatedly approved the foundation's numerous requests for financial assistance/subsidies and event sponsorships, and released funds as payment for the goods and services rendered, including illegal ad placements.
"By all indication, not only were these actions tolerated, it appears that top management had a hand in devising the system of funneling the funds into the Bida Foundation. Needless to state, all the foregoing illegal disbursements to and/or for the benefit of Bida Foundation, and at times for the benefit of Bida Production, came to fruition only because the former Pagcor management made it happen. By conspiring to make it happen, the concerned Pagcor respondents become guilty of malversation as though they had personally taken and converted to their own use the subject funds which were illegally disbursed for and on behalf of Bida Foundation," the 109-page resolution stated.
"It is the panel's view that the donations, whether monetary or in kind, sponsorships and subsidies subject of the questioned transactions are deemed 'assets' acquired or caused to be acquired by respondents for the benefit of Bida Foundation and/or Bida Production, which has served as front corporation for Genuino and his cohorts, so that Bida Foundation's acquisitions are treated as their acquisitions too," prosecutors added.
On the second complaint for the procurement of tickets for the movie "Baler," which was a co-production of Bida Foundation and Viva Films, the DOJ said that the purchase, supposedly as requested by casino patrons, is a questionable use of public funds.
The DOJ said that notwithstanding the absence of a board resolution, the board issued a check voucher on December 22, 2008, making P26.7 million available to Bida Foundation "in payment for Baler production."
Evidence also showed that respondents acted in concert to facilitate the illegal release of the funds.
In the case of the alleged mislabelling of some 200-metric tons of rice donations from the worth P3 million, allegedly used to boost the election campaign of Genuino's sons Erwin and Anthony in the 2010 elections, the DOJ cleared the brothers of liability for malversation.
Anthony won as mayor of Los Baños, Laguna, while Erwin lost his mayoral bid in Makati City to Junjun Binay.
The DOJ said that being a public officer, Genuino had custody and control of the property by reason of the duties of his office.
"The offender appropriated, took, misappropriated or consented or through abandonment or negligence, permitted another person to take government property," the resolution stated.
The complaint earlier alleged that Genuino had used his position as head of the state-run gaming corporation to divert the tons of rice donation by a Japanese firm to the Philippine government worth P1.4 million, and P1.7 million worth of operational funds intended for distribution to victims of Typhoon "Frank" in 2008 to the campaign kitty of his sons.
Genuino allegedly secured the donation of some 10,000 sacks of Thai rice from Aruze Corporation, one of the proponents for Pagcor's Entertainment City Project. However, only 6,500 sacks were transferred to the Department of Social Welfare and Development for distribution to typhoon victims.
The missing 3,500 sacks were later on found at the Pagcor warehouse in Imus, Cavite.
Further investigations made by Pagcor revealed that these were replaced by a much cheaper rice variety and repacked by virtue of a barter agreement entered into by Pagcor with a private rice mill. (JCV/Sunnex)