Tiger Resorts says Guevarra son hired before he was named DOJ Secretary

MANILA, Philippines – Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment Incorporated (TRLEI) said that Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra's son was hired even before the senior Guevarra was named justice secretary by President Rodrigo Duterte.

This comes after allegations that Guevarra's son was hired by TRLEI as risk management officer to influence the justice secretary and obtain a favorable ruling on the company's case against gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada.

The allegations, sent by email to several news organizations and reporters by a certain "Naruto Kama," claimed that Guevarra's son was hired after he was named justice secretary. The email alleged that Guevarra's son is named "Menardo Jr" but DOJ claims that is not his name. The DOJ chief did not give his son's name.

TRLEI's human resource division told Rappler that Guevarra's son was offered a position in their company in December 2017, or 4 months before his father was named Department of Justice (DOJ) chief by Duterte in April.

His hiring also took place 5 months before Parañaque City prosecutors dismissed TRLEI's estafa complaint against Okada in May. It was only a month later, in June, when TRLEI asked Guevarra to review the dismissal of charges against Okada.

“TRLEI HR confirms Secretary Guevarra’s statement that his son applied with TRLEI in November 2017 and was offered the position in December 2017," reads TRLEI's statement, sent to Rappler on Friday, December 21.

Accusations sent to media by email alleged that Guevarra's son was hired on July 2, 2018.

Because he was supposedly hired after Guevarra's appointment and before TRLEI filed its petition for review before the DOJ, it was imputed that he was hired by TRLEI to influence the DOJ, which his father heads, into favoring the company.

The DOJ's National Prosecution Service (NPS) did rule in favor of TRLEI when it indicted Okada for estafa in a resolution dated December 7.

Inhibiting

But DOJ spokesman Undersecretary Markk Perete said the NPS decides on cases independently of Guevarra.

NPS decisions may, however, be appealed to Guevarra. If such a scenario were to take place, the justice secretary will inhibit from resolving these cases or ask his son to resign from TRLEI.

"The Secretary has requested his son to seriously consider resigning from Tiger Resorts...The Secretary added that should his son find no reason to resign from Tiger Resorts, he will completely inhibit from resolving these cases should the same be appealed to his office," said Perete.

Guevarra may even consider resigning as justice secretary, added the spokesman.

Guevarra had also supposedly spoken with the lawyers of both TRLEI and Okada to assure them that his son's employment in TRLEI will not affect the decision on the case.

"The Secretary likewise assured the counsel for both parties that the engagement of his son by Tiger Resorts would have no bearing in the resolution of their cases, and that these cases will be resolved with utmost impartiality," said Perete. 

Background

In early December, the DOJ, through the NPS, found probable cause to indict Okada for 3 counts of estafa for allegedly getting over $3.1 million in company funds without authority from the board.

The estafa complaint was filed by TRLEI, which owns and operates Okada Manila.

The NPS decision reversed the dismissal of the estafa complaint by a Parañaque City prosecutor, which had been a win for Okada and a loss for TRLEI.

TRLEI asked the DOJ to review the dismissal, eventually leading to Okada's indictment. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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