Ongpin offers PAGCOR his P20B PhilWeb shares for drug rehab
MANILA, Philippines – Roberto Ongpin asked state-owned gaming firm Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to use P20-billion worth of PhilWeb Corporation shares for the establishment of a nationwide network of drug rehabilitation centers.
In a letter to PAGCOR Chairperson Andrea Domingo on Friday, August 19, Ongpin said – for the 3rd time – that this will be his "last attempt" to save PhilWeb and over 6,000 jobs that will be affected by the non-renewal of its gaming license.
"I am a firm believer in the President [Rodrigo Duterte]'s drive against the drug menace. And as he has pointed out, the elimination of drug lords and drug pushers will not succeed unless this is complemented by an effective drug rehabilitation program," Ongpin said.
"While one could agree that gambling is undesirable, nothing could be more precocious than drug menace which destroys the very fabric of our youth and our society and which admirably, the President has chosen to be his first priority," Ongpin added.
The embattled businessman said PAGCOR may accept his donated PhilWeb shares and then sell these shares to raise the money needed to build rehabilitation centers. (READ: PhilWeb to close e-Games outlets despite Ongpin resignation)
Although his stake in PhilWeb is now worth between P4 and P5 billion after its share price dropped significantly in recent weeks, Ongpin said his 771 million PhilWeb shares would be worth P20 billion under normal circumstances.
A 'firm believer'
Even before Duterte named him as one of the "oligarchs" his administration wants to destroy, Ongpin said PhilWeb had already engaged in a serious study of drug rehabilitation centers.
It even identified a 2.1 hectare property near Atimonan, Quezon as ideal for a rehabilitation site.
PhilWeb, according to Ongpin, has also allocated P100 million a year plus up to P3 million per month to sustain this rehabilitation center.
Ongpin on Wednesday, August 17 offered to donate 49% of his shareholdings in PhilWeb to PAGCOR and the remaining 4.7% to the Ateneo de Manila University JVO Scholarship Foundation.
PAGCOR rejected Ongpin's offer, citing Duterte's stance against online and on-site electronic gaming.
"This issue is not RVO or PhilWeb per se. It is the President's and his government's opposition to online and on-site electronic 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," Domingo said in a statement.
Ongpin, however, is hoping that PAGCOR will finally accept his amended proposal. (READ: Ongpin to sell his entire 53.76% stake in PhilWeb)
"I hope that I will be forgiven for this one last attempt. It is a sincere attempt and no benefit whatsoever will accrue to me since I have already committed to donate all my shares," Ongpin said. – Rappler.com