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Ombudsman to sue former PAGCOR officials for misused funds

March 6, 2013 3:06pm
The Office of the Ombudsman is suing the former chairman and other officials of state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) for graft and malversation of public funds. 
“Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the indictment for multiple counts of malversation and graft charges against Efraim Genuino... along with several other PAGCOR officials,” according to an emailed statement, citing a 43-page resolution signed on Feb. 25. 
Apart from Genuino, PAGCOR officers Rafael Francisco, Jose Benedicto, Rene Figueroa, Edward King, Ester Hernandez and Valente Custodio are also facing charges of malversation and violation of the anti-graft law. 
Genuino and King are facing 19 counts of malversation and 17 counts of unlawful donations and payments. Other PAGCOR officials will be slapped 18 counts of malversation and 17 counts of unlawful donations and payments.
Genuino’s son, Erwin, was also ordered indicted for violation of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officers and Employees.
The decision came after the Ombudsman junked the respondents' motion to conduct another preliminary investigation, according to the statement sent by the Ombudsman's Office.
“The Office, upon review of the Resolutions submitted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) which conducted the preliminary investigation, denied at the outset the respondents’ motions,” the statement read. 
“All respondents were afforded by the DOJ the opportunity to submit controverting evidence,” it added. 
Last September 18, the DOJ recommended that charges of plunder, graft and corruption and malversation of public funds be filed against the former PAGCOR officials in light of a preliminary investigation.
Genuino along with other PAGCOR board members and officials were members of Batas Iwas Droga (BIDA) Foundation and BIDA Production, the DOJ had said.  
They “conspired with one another in amassing, acquiring and accumulating ‘ill-gotten wealth’ of at least P50,000,000.00 in the form of illegal donations and irregularly approved sponsorships and contract awards in favor of the said two BIDA entities,” the department claimed.
Involved in the case were funds worth over P186 million including P44.049 million in intelligence expense supposedly spent on BIDA Foundation and disbursements supposedly used to fund BIDA Foundation Party-list ads.  
The department noted a probable malversation in a second case where PAGCOR supposedly used operational expense fund in buying P26.7 million worth of tickets to the feature film “Baler” from BIDA.
The amount was supposed to be replenished through sales, but only P4.580 million worth of tickets were sold. 
In the third case, Genuino allegedly misappropriated “more than 1,200 cavans of rice donated to the Philippines for the benefit of typhoon victims.”
The accused supposedly repacked the donations into sacks bearing the name and images of Genuino’s sons Erwin and Anthony and “converting the same for their personal use and benefit in their election campaign,” according to the Justice Department. — Siegfrid Alegado/VS/BM, GMA News

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