PNoy: Palace to probe Pagcor chief
The President says Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa will likely head the investigating committee.

MANILA, Philippines – Four days after the scandal broke, President Benigno Aquino III said his office will investigate allegations that the chief of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) received bribes from a casino operator.

“There is a formal process where he will be asked to explain…well, first [we need to look at the] specific accusations then we will task him to explain himself with regards to the specific accusations,” Aquino told reporters when asked about the fate of his friend Cristino Naguiat Jr, chief of Pagcor.

“There’s presumption of innocence until proven guilty,” the President said as he defended Naguiat against what he said was premature judgment on him.

But while Mr Aquino said he has decided to form a committee to investigate Naguiat, it was apparent it has not been formed.

“I will probably task the Executive Secretary to head the committee,” Aquino said.

If found guilty of wrongdoing, Naguiat will have to face sanctions, he added.

The Revised Penal Code and the Code of Conduct for public employees prohibit them from accepting gifts from people or businesses regulated by government. But the Palace earlier said Naguiat did not violate the Code since he went to Macau not as a casino regulator but as a casino operator.

Naguiat has admitted staying in the posh Wynn Resorts in Macau for 4 nights in September 2010, together with his wife, children and their nanny. This was courtesy of Universal Entertainment and its owner, Kazuo Okada, also the biggest shareholder of Wynn Resorts Ltd.

Naguiat was dragged into a lawsuit filed by Wynn Resorts against its stockholder Okada in a Nevada court, accusing him (Okada) of bribing Naguiat and other Pagcor officials to finalize the setting up of a casino in Manila Bay. –

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