Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation

PAGCOR files plunder charge against Genuino, 40 others for questionable BIDA transactions

PAGCOR files plunder charge against Genuino, 40 others for questionable BIDA transactions
PAGCOR Chairman Cristino L. Naguiat, Jr. swore to his complaint affidavit before Cesar Calubag, Asst. State Prosecutor of the Department of Justice (DOJ) during the filing of plunder raps against former PAGCOR Chairman Efraim Genuino and 40 others on July 11, 2011. Genuino and his co-respondents to the case were charged for misappropriating at least P186 million of PAGCOR funds that purportedly benefited BIDA Foundation, Inc. and three other entities from 2003 to 2010.

Former PAGCOR Chairman Efraim Genuino and 40 others have been slapped with plunder and anti-graft charges before the Department of Justice (DOJ) today for the misappropriation of at least P186 million in relation to questionable transactions that benefited BIDA Foundation, Inc. and other entities from 2003 to 2010.

PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Cristino Naguiat, Jr. signed the 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,” he said.

Aside from Genuino, also charged are former PAGCOR Board Members Rafael Francisco (COO and President), Manuel Roxas, Philip Lo, Danilo Gozo, Imelda Dimaporo, Ester Laconico Feria, Susana Dumlao Vargas, and Gamaliel Cordoba who is currently the Commissioner of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

Also named respondents to the plunder case are former PAGCOR officials Jose Benedicto (Chief of Staff), Rene Figueroa (Executive Vice President), Edward King (Vice President for Corporate Communications and Services Dept), 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), and Erwin Genuino (Executive Assistant of Legal Deparment); and former PAGCOR consultants Mario Cornista, Rodolfo Soriano, Jr., Tomas Toledo, and Emilio Marcelo.

PAGCOR files plunder charge against Genuino, 40 others for questionable BIDA transactions
Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) Chairman and CEO Cristino Naguiat Jr. (left) looks on as PAGCOR Chief Legal Counsel, Atty. Jay Daniel Santiago (middle) and his legal team wheel in piles of documents during the filing of plunder raps against former PAGCOR Chairman Efraim Genuino and 40 others before the Department of Justice (DOJ). Mr. Genuino and his co-respondents were accused of misappropriating at least P186 million of PAGCOR funds for questionable transactions which purportedly benefited the BIDA Foundation Inc., and other entities from 2003 to 2010.

Likewise charged are 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, is 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 who were then got heftily paid by PAGCOR.

Naguiat explained 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 reveal 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.”

PAGCOR files plunder charge against Genuino, 40 others for questionable BIDA transactions
Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) Chief Legal Counsel Atty. Jay Daniel Santiago (left) escorts the copies of the complaint affidavit filed by PAGCOR before the Department of Justice on July 11. The complaint contains plunder and anti-graft charges against ex-PAGCOR Chairman Efraim Genuino and 40 others for the misappropriation of PAGCOR funds amounting to at least P186 million that benefited the BIDA Foundation Inc., and other entities from 2003 to 2010.

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.

According to Naguiat, 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 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,” he explained.

The said transactions pertain 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.

According to Naguiat, 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,” he said.

PAGCOR files plunder charge against Genuino, 40 others for questionable BIDA transactions

Also clearly violated was the Procurement Law. “There were several occasions when PAGCOR purchased and directly paid for the goods or services to suppliers without the benefit of competitive bidding,” Naguiat added.

Records show that PAGCOR paid P14.42 million for BIDA pins, BIDA ID cards, tarpaulins and other collaterals to BIDA Production. Said materials were mostly used for the BIDA caravan. On top of that, 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 at least 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.

On August 12, 2009, BIDA Foundation filed at 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 said petition, BIDA lists 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 pointed out.

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 stressed “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 explained. “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.

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