Feb 052013

MANILA, Philippines – The good government committee of the House of Representatives closed its investigation yesterday into fund irregularities that the previous administration of Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corp. (Pagcor) committed.

“We have gathered enough material to conclude this inquiry and prepare a report,” Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas, committee chairman, told his panel.

He said his committee’s evidence includes several complaints filed by incumbent Pagcor officers against their predecessors led by former chairman Efraim Genuino with the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the DOJ resolutions on such complaints.

Before Treñas adjourned yesterday’s hearing, Negros Oriental Rep. George Arnaiz called attention to a Pagcor report listing the names of Genuino’s consultants. 

“There are scores of consultants listed here. They were receiving from P100,000 to P145,000 a month. But I am curious about one name – that of Consuelo Ynares-Santiago. Is she the same person as Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago of the Supreme Court?” he asked.

Lawyer Michael Gaspar of Pagcor’s legal department gave an affirmative answer.

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Responding to a question from Arnaiz, Gaspar said he did not know why Ynares-Santiago became a Pagcor consultant from February 2010 up to the time the new Pagcor officers assumed office.

“We terminated all consultancy contracts entered into by the previous administration,” he said.

Ynares-Santiago was appointed to the Supreme Court on April 6, 1999 by then President Estrada.

In answer to another question, Gaspar said he did not know how many consultants incumbent Pagcor chairman Cristino Naguiat Jr. has hired.

Treñas said his committee did not look into allegations that Japanese investor Kazuo Okada might have resorted to bribery to obtain his casino license from Pagcor.          

 “That is not part of the resolution referred to us. The resolution forwarded to us covers only the alleged fund irregularities committed by the previous Pagcor administration,” he said.

A separate resolution asked the House to inquire into reports that Okada transferred at least $35 million to then Genuino consultant Rodolfo “Boysie” Soriano at a time when the Japanese investor was lobbying for concessions and his gaming license from the administration of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

However, of the $35 million, at least $5 million was allegedly sent to Soriano in May 2010, about a month before then President-elect Benigno Aquino lll took over from Arroyo.

The resolution on the bribery allegations was referred to the committee on games and amusement, which Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing chairs.

Bagatsing has not summoned Genuino or his consultant Soriano because he claimed there was yet no testimony or document directly linking the two to the accusations.

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