18 September 2012

In three (3) separate Resolutions, pertaining to three (3) separate cases filed against former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) Chairman EFRAIM C. GENUINO and dozens of other respondents, the National Prosecution Service (NPS) of the Department of Justice (DOJ) found probable cause to charge Genuino with violation of the Plunder Law, as well as multiple counts of malversation of public funds (total of 175 counts) and violation of provisions of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (total of 174 counts).

A. In a 109-page Resolution in the case docketed as NPS Docket No. XVI-INV-11G-00248, the Panel of NPS Prosecutors headed by Assistant State Prosecutor EDNA A. VALENZUELA found that it was sufficiently proved that Genuino, along with various other PAGCOR Board members and officials and several other private individuals who are ofticials and Board members of Batas Iwas Droga (BIDA) Foundation and BIDA Production, conspired with one another in amassing, acquiring and accumulating "ill-gotten wealth," of atleast FIFTY MILLION PESOS (Php 50,000,000.00) "in the form of illegal donations and irregularly approved sponsorships and contract awards” in favor of said two BIDA entities.

The pedigree of BIDA Foundation and various other BIDA entities were found to be questionable, given their “established connection with a number of key personalities in the PAGCOR Management under question,” including Genuino, RAFAEL FRANCISCO and EDWARD KING, and also given "its jump into political circuit following the years of its massive and consistent funding from PAGCOR.” Such suspicious pedigree also “indicates the existence of conflict of interest considering that as PAGCOR directors they  exercised control and power over the disbursement of PAGCOR funds.”

The following are among the series of overt or criminal acts identified by the Panel of Prosecutors as having been sufficiently established constitutive of the crime of Plunder:

1. Violation of PAGCOR's internal procedures for the processing and approval of intelligence expense. Specifically, it was found that, in 2009, PAGCOR management charged a total of Php 91,532,367.50 intelligence cash advances as operating expenses in order to make it appear that they did not overshoot their approved budget for Intelligence Expenses of Php 350,000,000.00; and they also dispensed with the requirement of forwarding pertinent documents to the COA head office for audit. It was found that 48.12% (or a total of Php 44,049,921.10) was spent on BIDA Foundation in the form of donations and sponsorships, which should have thus been subjected to the proper procedure for requesting financial assistance and/or event sponsorship from PAGCOR, but were not.

2. Disbursement of PAGCOR funds for BIDA Foundation as Party-List, hence a political party, and for BIDA advertisements.  The Panel found that, "prior to the filing of[BIDA’s] application as party-list organization, advertisementplacements were being made in a manner of such frequency, that it became a widespread and massive campaign or advocacy,” such that it appears that “[t]hr0ugh the repeated acts of disbursements of PAGCOR funds, respondents-directors-officers of PAGCOR and respondents·members or trustees of BIDA Foundation manifested their respective participation in a c0nspiracy... to achieve a common goal or objective," which is "to secure a congressional seat as a sectoral or party-list organization in the 2010 National Elections.”

3. Violation of PAGCOR’s Internal Procedures for processing financial assisstance/event sponsorship, and intelligence expense, procurement law and COA Circular 001-000. The Panel found BIDA Foundation and BIDA Production to be the "constant twin beneficiaries of the subject transactions,” including of “various grants and contract awards involving large amounts of money worth millions.” Requests for financial assistance and event sponsorships of BIDA Foundation were often fast-tracked and pre-approved, and allotted funds were  immediately released even in the absence of PAGCOR’s board approval or non-submission of the requisite documents. Moreover, almost all of the sponsorship requests of BIDA Foundation involved a series of information campaign and advertisements in wide circulation, which required the procurement of goods and services worth more than P500,000.00, which did not undergo mandatory competitive bidding but were "directly awarded repeatedly to BIDA Production and other allied
private suppliers."

B. On the other hand, in a 49-page Resolution in the case docketed as I.S. No. XVI-INV-11f-00229, the Panel of NPS Prosecutors headed by Assistant State Prosecutor GINO PAOLO S. SANTIAGO found probable cause to charge Genuino, JOSE C. BENEDICTO, RENE C. FIGUEROA, EDWARD "DODIE" F. KING, ESTER P. HERNANDEZ and VALENTE C. CUSTODIO for malversation and for violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 in connection with the questionable purchase of tickets/ passes for the movie "BALER", a project of VIVA Communications, Inc. and BIDA Foundation, using public funds. The value of the movies tickets/passes in the total amount of Php 26,700,000.00 was paid to BIDA out of the Operational Expenses (OPEX) Fund of PAGCOR, through Land Bank Check No. 0000153001, dated 23 December 2008.

The amount advanced by PAGCOR. from public funds was supposed to be replenished by whatever ticket sales were generated from the sale of tickets to casino patrons, either on a cash basis or through the Player Tracking System (PTS) points basis, but ticket sales generated by PAGCOR casinos totalled only P4,580,490.00. Hence, the value of the remaining unsold tickets amounting to Php 22,119,510.00 was shouldered by PAGCOR using public funds. Interestingly, the amount paid to BIDA for the value of the tickets "jibes with the cost of production that was supposed to have been shouldered by BIDA for the movie project" and the "89,000 tickets allocated to the different PAGCOR branches exactly correspond to the number of movie passes that VIVA released to BIDA .... " It was also found that, in the first place, the documentary requirements for processing the payment to BIDA were incomplete, including the absence of a Board Resolution authorizing the allocation and disbursements of funds, yet the amount was nonetheless paid “per instructions of the Office of the Chairman."

The NPS Panel found no probable cause to charge Erwin F. Genuino, the son of the former PAGCOR Chairman, and the rest of the co-respondents of Genuino, Benedicto, Figueroa, King, Hemandez and Custodio.

C. Finally, in the case docketed as I.S. No. XVI-INV-11G-00254, Prosecution Attorney MARY JANE SYTAT found probable cause to charge PAGCOR Chairman Genuino, Senior Vice President King and then Administrative Officer of the Corporate Communications and Services Department JOHN JOSEPH JAVIER (who is also the whistleblower upon whose affidavit the complaint was mainly based) with malversation of public funds and property under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code.

The complaint basically charged Genuino, his two sons, two colleagues in PAGCOR and a top executive in the Trace Computer College owned by the Genuinos, of misappropriating more than 1,200 cavans of rice donated to the Philippines for the benefit of typhoon victims, by repacking them into sacks bearing the name and images of his sons and "converting the same for [their] personal use and benefit". in their election campaign.” This, according to the complaint, caused PAGCOR and the Philippine govemment to suffer damages equal to the funds and the value of the donated rice, in the total amount of Php 3,100,114.71. The investigating prosecutor found that the mere denials of Genuino and King were not sufficient to overcome the belief, created by the detailed allegations of Javier, that they are probably guilty of the crime charged. The charges against the other respondents, including Genuino’s two sons, were dropped, but preliminary investigation shall be conducted against other persons implicated in the affidavit of Javier. All three resolutions, along with the complete records of the cases, shall be transmitted to the Office of the Ombudsman for appropriate action.

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