Palace to review Pagcor’s dual roles as operator, regulator

Rappler.com
The Malacanang-led investigation on the alleged ethical breaches of Pagcor chair Cristino Naguiat Jr. may include a review of the dual roles of Pagcor as casino operator and regulator

MANILA, Philippines – The Malacanang-led investigation on the alleged ethical breaches of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) Chairman Cristino Naguiat Jr. may include a  review of the dual roles of Pagcor as casino operator and regulator.

In a press briefing on Monday, February 27, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said, “Maybe part of [the investigation] will also be a review on the role of Pagcor as both a regulator as well as an operator. So that may be brought up in the investigation.”

Earlier, Lacierda announced the President Aquino called for a investigation on Naguiat’s conduct. The probe will be led by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa.

Naguiat, a good friend and classmate of President Aquino, has admitted that he accepted freebies from Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada, including free accommodation from Macau and Las Vegas facilities of Wynn Resorts, where Okada is a stockholder.

Pagcor has previously awarded Okada’s other company, Universal Entertainment, a provisional contract to build and operate a casino-entertainment business in the upcoming Bagong Nayong Pilipino-Entertainment City in 2008, before Naguiat took over the Pagcor post.

However, Pagcor reviewed the contracts award to the Entertainment City investors and, as a regulator, could halt the projects.    

Palace officials had earlier cited Pagcor’s dual role as both casino operator and casino regulator to justify Naguiat’s decision to accept free accommodations at Wynn Macau luxury casino hotel–at $6,000 per night–in 2010.

US-based Wynn Resorts had filed a lawsuit in the United States accusing Okada of violating the US Foreign Corrupt Practices by giving Naguiat and other Philippines officials with $110,000 worth of “gifts.” – Rappler.com