COA lifts disallowance on Pagcor’s P254-M confidential, intelligence expenses

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COA lifts disallowance on Pagcor’s P254-M confidential, intelligence expenses 

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) has lifted its notice of disallowance against cash advances of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) in relation to its confidential and intelligence activities in 2012, amounting to P254.845 million.

The COA en banc, in a decision released earlier in March, granted the appeal of former Pagcor officials  led by former chairman Cristino Naguiat Jr. filed on April 22, 2014.

The COA made the decision after the former Pagcor officials addressed the issues that prompted the notice of disallowance – the lack of approval from the Office of the President and the deficient documentation on the confidential and intelligence activities.

In granting the appeal, the COA Commission Proper cited the letter of the executive secretary dated April 18, 2012, stating that it had approved Pagcor’s requests for funding of P281.17 million in 2011 and P277.32 million in 2012 in connection with the “Save The House” project.

“This Commission finds the appeal meritorious. Finding substantial compliance with the documentary requirements under COA Circular No, 2003-002, this Commission concludes that the PAGCOR’s utilization of its CIF is proper,” the COA said.

The COA had issued the notice of disallowance against Pagcor in 2013, and held liable Naguiat, Estela Ramos, Byron Tabangay, Michael Bailey, and Vidal Cabigon Jr.

In their supplemental motion seeking a reevaluation of the notice of disallowance, the former Pagcor officials said the Save the House projects were done through three main operations – Terrier, Aquarius, and Butete – but confidential details were withheld as allowed under COA Circular No. 2003-002.

The Terrier operation involved the rental of safe houses, recruitment of (human intelligence informants), purchase of information, police augmentation in all casinos, and upgrading of surveillance video equipment.

The Aquarius operation covered the recruitment of Korean nationals as assets, inter-agency coordination with the National Bureau of Investigation and Philippine National Police intelligence units, and the travel expenses of a team deployed to Macau to coordinate and verify a card skimmers group operating in the country.

Operation Butete sought to identify Pagcor personnel who connive with other individuals in illegal activities, as well as the recruitment and training of surveillance personnel, recruitment and support for civilian assets, build-up of intelliggence networks, and training and equipment of personnel for detection of illegal online gaming. –

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