Ex-Pagcor execs told to return P27M used for ‘Baler’ tickets


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The ruling affirms state auditors' 2012 findings disallowing the purchase of 89,000 tickets and remitting their sales to a foundation linked to Genuino

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) is asking 9 former officials of the state gaming firm to return the P26.7 million that they spent on movie tickets in 2008.

The ruling – approved on November 20 and released Sunday, December 15 – affirmed the findings of the COA’s Corporate Government Sector-C in September 2012 holding liable Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) officials led by chairman and chief executive officer Efraim Genuino.

Genuino and the other officials approved purchasing 89,000 tickets to the movie Baler in 2008, distributed them to 12 Pagcor casinos, but remitted the sales to Batang Iwas Droga (BIDA) Foundation Inc, a party-list group that had nominated Genuino’s daughter and Pagcor suppliers for congressional seats.

This fund release was disallowed, according to the 16-page decision signed by COA chairperson Ma. Gracia Pulido Tan and commissioners Heidi Mendoza and Rowena Guanzon.

Held liable along with Genuino are:

* Rafael Francisco – former board director

* Manuel Roxas – former board director

* Philip Lo – former board director

* Gamaliel Cordoba – former board director

* Rene Figueroa – former senior vice president

* Ester Hernandez – former accounting department vice president 

* Estela Ramos – former finance and treasury department vice president

* Pedro Michael Cendaña IV – former assistant vice president

The former vice president for corporate communications, Edward King, was cleared of liability. He was able to prove that he was abroad two days before the board signed on Dec 22, 2008, the request for payment in favor of BIDA Foundation.

The former Pagcor executives had sought the reversal of the 2012 COA ruling.  Aside from saying that the purchase of Baler tickets was a valid expense, they argued that the transaction was private and was therefore beyond COA’s jurisdiction.

State auditors said, however, that promoting a movie is outside the mandate of Pagcor.  They pointed out that since Pagcor is a government corporation, its “accounts pertaining to revenues, receipts, expenditures and uses of government funds and properties are subject to general audit jurisdiction.” – Rappler.com

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