Ombudsman indicts Genuinos, Pagcor execs for graft
MANILA, Philippines - Public funds were misused by former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) Chairman Efraim Genuino, his son, and several other officials with regards to the promotion of the movie "Baler" and rice donated by a Japanese firm to Typhoon Frank victims.
This was based on a 43-page Joint Review Resolution that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales signed on February 25 against Genuino, his son Erwin, and several others who were slapped with multiple counts of malversation of funds and graft.
Previously, the Department of Justice (DOJ) asked the Ombudsman to file criminal charges against Genuino for plundering gaming funds amounting to US$6.22 milion and funneling the amount into a charity he founded. Genuino served as Pagcor chief until 2010 under the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The Ombudsman found the following guilty:
- Efraim Genuino
- Erwin Genuino
- Rafael Francisco
- Jose Benedicto
- Rene Figueroa
- Edward King
- Ester Hernandez
- Valente Custodio
"The Office, upon review of the Resolutions submitted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) which conducted the preliminary investigation, denied at the outset the respondents' motions to conduct another preliminary investigation, since all respondents were afforded by the DOJ the opportunity to submit controverting evidence," the Ombudsman said in a statement on Wednesday, March 6.
'Baler' movie tickets
Ombudsman Morales found probable cause to indict Genuino, Francisco, Benedicto, Figueroa, King, Hernandez and Custodio for one count of malversation and another count for violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The Ombudsman found that Pagcor effectively shelled out P21.65 million for the 72,150 unsold 'Baler' movie tickets.
The Office found that this was not part of the agreement between Pagcor, Viva Communications and Batas Iwas Droga Foundation (BIDA).
Under the agreement, Pagcor will only offer "Baler" movie tickets to casino patrons through the Player Tracking System (PTS) points. Only 16,850 of the 89,000 tickets paid for by PAGCOR were bought.
The office said that since PAGCOR paid for the 89,000 tickets in advance at P300 each, the government-owned-and-controlled corporation (GOCC) "effectively shouldered" the business losses incurred from the movie.
The breakdown of the tickets sold by PAGCOR is as follows:
- 7,791 tickets - bought by casino patrons
- 6,253 tickets - sold by Pagcor branches to the public
- 2,806 tickets - sold to employees through salary deduction
"The Office observed that the relevant documents were processed in just one day while the check-payment was released the following day."
It also discovered that BIDA and Pagcor had interlocking officers. Cendana was BIDA's corporate secretary while Genuino, Benedicto, Francisco and King were incorporators of BIDA, the statement said.
"The Office also found conflict of interest on the part of Erwin Genuino, Pagcor Executive Assistant and Executive Producer of 'Baler'. It noted that Pagcor facilities and resources were used in the post-production and promotion of the movie, making him liable for violation of Section 7(b)(2) of RA 6713," it added.
Rice used in polls
The Office of the Ombudsman also found Genuino and King guilty for one count of malversation after 300 metric tons of rice donated by a Japanese firm were used in the campaign of the Genuino brothers, Erwin and Anthony in 2010.
Erwin and Anthony ran for mayor of Makati City and Los Baños, Laguna, respectively, in 2010. Anthony won but Erwin lost.
A Japanese firm donated the rice to the Philippine government through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the victims of Typhoon Frank in 2008.
The rice was eventually packed into 30 kilogram bags bearing the images and political slogans of brothers Erwin and Anthony Genuino in 2010.
The 10,000 bags of rice were distributed to Trace Computer College, which was owned by the Genuinos.
The Ombudsman found the re-milling of the remaining stored bags to prevent deterioration did not materialize because of a barter agreement between PAGCOR and KDL Rice Mill wherein the 70,425 kgs. of donated Thai rice were exchanged for 64,858.5 kgs. of angelica rice valued at P1.41 million.
"The Joint Review Resolution, in finding that the 'good faith' doctrine in the Arias case is inapplicable to the case, discussed that the glaring circumstances evincing irregularities should have put the public officers on alert and prompted them to inquire into the transactions, but they did not," the Ombudsman said. - Rappler.com