Roque denies involvement in raided illegal Pogo hub in Porac

MANILA. Former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
MANILA. Former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.Photo by Alan Tangcawan

FORMER presidential spokesperson Harry Roque has denied allegations linking him to a raided illegal Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (Pogo) in Porac, Pampanga.

In a statement, Roque said he never served as a legal counsel to any illegal Pogo, including the Lucky South 99, which was raided by the police in June nor did he participate in preparing the firm’s organizational chart, which identified him as their head legal counsel.

Roque clarified that his client was Whirlwind Corporation, which was then the service provider of Lucky South 99.

He challenged Senator Risa Hontiveros, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, which probes the raided illegal Pogo hub in Bamban, Tarlac, to prove his direct link to the operations of Lucky South 99.

“Furthermore, Senator Risa Hontiveros’ conclusion that I lied when I claimed in the media that I am Whirlwind’s counsel is bereft of merit. I clarify that I did not consent to nor was I informed of my name's inclusion in any submission by Lucky South with the PAGCOR concerning license renewal,” he said.

During the resumption of the senate inquiry on Wednesday, July 10, Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco said Roque accompanied Katherine Cassandra Li Ong, the authorized representative of Lucky South 99, to his office sometime in July 2023 where they raised the problems of the Pogo firm, particularly the non-remmitance of its six months’ worth of arrears valued at around $500,000 by former deputy director of the Technology and Livelihood Resource Center Dennis Cunanan.

Tengco said Ong and Roque asked him to allow the Pogo firm to reapply for their license to operate, which was then set to expire in two months.

Pagcor Offshore Gaming Licensing Department head Jessa Fernandez, who was with Tengco during the meeting, said Roque contacted her six times to inquire about the reapplication of Lucky South 99's license.

They both clarified that Roque was not pressuring them.

Roque said he accompanied Ong in the meeting because he thought Lucky South -- Whirlwind’s principal -- was a victim of estafa.

He said he joined Ong since he was then persuading Whirlwind to invest in two energy projects of which he was the primary proponent.

“I have no reason to deny my legal engagement with Lucky South if there is truth to it. Providing legal representation is why the legal profession exists. But the reality is that an attorney-client relationship is of the highest fiduciary relationship and cannot be presumed unless there is a clear retainer between counsel and client,” said Roque.

“As a lawyer, I could not directly engage with the Pogo because of a potential conflict of interest and given the soured lease contract between Whirlwind and Lucky South,” he added. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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