PAGCOR rejects Ongpin's offer to donate PhilWeb shares

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – State-owned and -controlled Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) will not accept Roberto Ongpin's offer to donate 49% of his stake in PhilWeb Corporation, following President Rodrigo Duterte's bid to "correct or stop previous gaming policies."

"The issue is not RVO (Roberto V. Ongpin) or PhilWeb per se. It is the President's and his government's opposition to online and onsite gaming because of the social ills and decay they foist on our communities as they cater to the more economically vulnerable portion of our population," PAGCOR Chairman Andrea Domingo said in a statement on Thursday, August 18.

Domingo's response came a day after Ongpin offered to donate 49% of his entire 53.76% stake in PhilWeb to PAGCOR, exhausting all means to save the firm from winding down operations.

The embattled businessman has also offered to donate the remaining 4.76% to the Ateneo de Manila University JVO Scholarship Fund.  (READ: PhilWeb to close e-Games outlets despite Ongpin resignation)

Before his offer for donation, Ongpin tried to sell all his 771.75 million shares in PhilWeb through an open, public bidding.

But when PAGCOR said it will still not renew PhilWeb's license despite his divestment, Ongpin did not push through with the bidding.

The former trade minister then offered to donate bulk of his shares, in hopes that PAGCOR would reconsider and renew PhilWeb's license.

Start of crackdown

But PAGCOR Chairperson Domingo said PhilWeb's case is just the start of her office's crackdown on gaming firms that bring harmful social conditions.

"The campaign to correct or to stop previous gaming policies that bring about such pernicious social conditions just had to start with PhilWeb, simply because its license had expired," Domingo said.

The PAGCOR chief added they will deal with similar cases involving other parties accordingly.

Ongpin resigned as chairman and director of PhilWeb, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte publicly threatened to "destroy" the businessman and other "oligarchs."

Despite his resignation, PAGCOR decided not to renew PhilWeb's license, which expired on August 10.

The listed gaming company said it has about 1,500 stockholders, 286 e-Games outlets, and about 5,000 employees.

All of its staff have been out of work since PhilWeb's license expired.

On paper, Ongpin said he lost up to P20 billion of net worth since Duterte singled him out as an oligarch to be destroyed. – Rappler.com