Pagcor reinstates ousted Okada Manila board

Ralf Rivas

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Pagcor reinstates ousted Okada Manila board

TUG OF WAR. A scuffle occurs within Okada Manila’s premises after Pagcor reinstates the old board.

Photo courtesy of Cojuangco-led board

The Okada Manila board led by businessman Tonyboy Cojuangco is booted out by Pagcor. The DOJ backs the said order.

MANILA, Philippines – The ousted board members of Okada Manila were able to get their seats back after the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) intervened amid an ongoing case over the matter in the Court of Appeals.

On Friday, September 2, Pagcor chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) Alejandro Tengco and newly minted set of officers ordered Antonio Cojuangco, Dindo Espeleta III, and other officials associated with the camp of Japanese gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada to vacate the resort casino, resulting in a scuffle between the two camps and state officers.

The Cojuangco-led board said Pagcor’s move was illegal.

Why Pagcor ordered so

In a document dated September 2, the new Pagcor management said that the status quo ante order (SQAO) earlier released by the Supreme Court only granted the return of Okada as stockholder, director, chairman, and CEO of Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment Inc. (TRLEI), Okada Manila’s operator and parent company. Pagcor also withdrew its recognition of Espeleta as authorized representative of TRLEI.

Pagcor likewise allowed representatives of Tiger Resorts Asia Limited (TRAL), the parent company of TRLEI, to assume management and operations of TRLEI.

It also barred the Cojuangco-led board to disburse funds in the Okada Manila cage.

BATTLE FOR CONTROL. Pagcor chief legal counsel Roderick Consolacion (second from right) is escorted by representatives from the Philippine National Police to serve the order to the Cojuangco-led board to vacate Okada Manila. Photo courtesy of TRAL-led reinstated board

The gaming regulator based its order on a legal opinion issued by Justice Secretary Crispin Remulla, which said that the SQAO did not empower Okada to form a new board and only reinstated him as stockholder, director, chairman, and CEO of TRLEI.

Remulla also noted that Pagcor had the power and authority to act on the matter and implement remedial measures concerning the structure, operations, and corporate affairs of the casino resort and its parent companies.

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What the reinstated board said

The reinstated board is recognizing Okada’s return “for now.”

“We believe that the order from the Pagcor affirms our position in the intra-corporate dispute in Okada Manila. It is consistent with both the letter and spirit of the SQAO of the Supreme Court. We are hopeful that both the High Tribunal and the Court of Appeals will agree and this issue can be put to rest very soon,” TRAL director Kenshi Asano said.

TRAL officials described their reinstatement last Friday as “generally peaceful” despite a scuffle that transpired.

Photo courtesy of Cojuangco-led board
Cojuangco-led board cries foul

The Cojuangco-led board questioned Pagcor’s move to reinstate the old Okada Manila board, insisting that the order was “merely based” on the Department of Justice’s legal opinion “and not from a proper court of law.”

The Cojuangco-led board also insisted that Pagcor and the Philippine National Police “were not armed with a court order” when they stormed the Okada Manila premises last Friday.

“It should be noted that Pagcor’s role is merely to validate who is fit to hold a board position in Okada Manila and not to appoint any specific individuals to positions in the company. Pagcor’s swift action circumvented all manner of legal process, which includes the issuance of memos and the relevant information to the Kazuo Okada-led management team first before the actual serving of the CDO (cease and desist order) and the physical removal of the Okada-led management from the company premises,” the Cojuangco-led board said. –

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Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.