Sandiganbayan upholds cases vs ex-Pagcor chief over ‘questionable’ use of funds

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Sandiganbayan upholds cases vs ex-Pagcor chief over ‘questionable’ use of funds

ANTI-GRAFT COURT. The Sandiganbayan in Quezon City, June 30, 2018.

Darren Langit/Rappler

The anti-graft court denies former Pagcor chairperson Efraim Genuino's appeal for 'utter lack of merit'

MANILA, Philippines – The Third Division of the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan upheld the 39 criminal cases filed in 2013 against former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) chairperson Efraim Genuino.

The court’s Third Division Presiding Justice and chairperson Amparo Cabotaje-Tang penned the six-page resolution dated April 9 that junked Genuino’s motion for reconsideration. The former Pagcor chief’s appeal was denied “for utter lack of merit.”

Associate Justices Bernelito Fernandez and Ronald Moreno concurred in the ruling.

In his appeal, the former Pagcor chief claimed that the Supreme Court rulings in 2021 on the Genuino vs. the Commission on Audit (COA) case decided that Pagcor’s income is not considered public funds. As such, Genuino claimed that the use of Pagcor funds on private entities is beyond the COA’s jurisdiction.

But the appellate court said Genuino already raised the same arguments in his previous challenges presented to the court.

“To be sure, the Supreme Court made no pronouncement as to the guilt or innocence of the accused in relation to the criminal charges filed against them in these case,” the anti-graft court said.

Genuino faces 20 counts of malversation of public funds and another 19 counts of graft over the alleged payments amounting to P44 million made to the following groups: BIDA (Batang Iwas-Droga) Foundation, BIDA Production, Wildformat Inc., and Pencil First.

According to the prosecutors, the funds were taken from Pagcor’s intelligence funds and realigned as operating funds with no stated public purpose.

Among Genuino’s co-defendants were former Pagcor officials Rafael Francisco, Jose Benedicto, Rene Figueroa, Edward King, Ester Hernandez, and Valente Custodio for allegedly acting in conspiracy with Genuino.

Aside from this, Genuino is also being accused of the following:

  • Releasing P50 million for the procurement of tarpaulin, shirts, caps, promotional items and payment for stage production and sponsorship expenses of BIDA Foundation
  • Releasing P63 million for advertising expenses in 2008 and 2009 during BIDA’s application for accreditation as a party-list group
  • Advancing payment of P26.7 million for 89,000 tickets for the 2008 movie “Baler”
  • Committing fraud in relation to the diversion of 300 tons of rice donated for the victims of Typhoon Frank in 2008

The investigators said the 72,425 kilos of donated Thai rice were swapped for 64,858 kilos of angelica rice. The rice bags were also repacked into smaller containers “bearing the images and political slogans of brothers Erwin and Anthony Genuino in 2010.” –

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