• 39 criminal complaints filed vs. Genuino

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    EFRAIM Genuino, former chairman of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), is facing a slew of criminal charges before the Sandiganbayan over the alleged anomalous purchase of movie tickets, illegal donations to private entities and illegal storage of donated rice for typhoon victims.

    Graft investigators filed 20 counts of malversation and 19 counts of graft complaints before the anti-graft court against Genuino and Edward King, former Pagcor senior vice president for Corporate Communications. Five other defendants— Rafael Francisco, Jose Benedicto, Rene Figueroa, Ester Hernandez, and Valente Custodio—are facing 38 counts of malversation and graft.

    To gain his temporary liberty, Genuino should post a total bail of P1.77 million.

    The Office of the Ombudsman filed charges against the former Pagcor officials for “hastily processing and disbursing” P44.05 million of donations to Batang Iwas Droga Foundation (Bida) meant as “promotional expenses” of the foundation.

    According to the Ombudsman, the officials charged the donations from the intelligence fund of the agency which was sourced from its operating expense.

    “The Pagcor board of directors seems to have been blindsided by their own executive officers, as the board resolutions authorizing the release of intelligence funds or allowing the reclassification of intelligence expenses to operating expenses appear to have not been passed at all,” the anti-graft agency said.

    The Ombudsman listed 12 “unlawful disbursements” to Bida, which received the payments even before they were processed.

    The officials also forwarded “illicit ad placements” worth P63.1 million in favor of Bida.

    “It appears that the unlawful disbursements for ad placements were set afoot or triggered by respondents with the singular intent of causing the accreditations by the Commission on Elections of Bida as a party-list representative,” the Ombudsman noted.

    Bida joined the party-list elections in 2007 and 2010 but lost.

    Unused movie tickets
    The Pagcor officials were also rapped for the purchase of P22.12 million worth of movie tickets for “Baler”, a movie produced by Viva Communications and Bida.

    “The unusual, if not indecent, haste in disbursing public funds by Pagcor top executives to purchase movie tickets and promote the sales thereof, a purely private and commercial endeavor, is clearly constitutive of malversation and likewise a violation of the Anti-Graft Law,” the Ombudsman said.

    Custodio ordered his department “to turn a blind eye” to the irregularity of payment processing, the Ombudsman said.

    The anti-graft office said Pagcor advanced P26.7 million for the cost of 89,000 movie tickets at P300 each.

    “[It] was contrary to the scheme approved by the Pagcor to merely offer Baler movie tickets to casino patrons through the Player Tracking System points,” the Ombudsman said.

    Genuino and King were also indicted for allegedly misappropriating 64,858.5 kilograms of Angelica rice worth P1.41 million.

    At the height of typhoon Frank in 2008, Japan-based Aruze Corp. donated 300 metric tons of Thai rice to the Philippines, which were re-packed to smaller bags that carried the images and slogans of brothers Erwin and Anthony Genuino in 2010. These were released to, among others, Trace Computer College owned by the Genuinos.

    “Appalling is the fact that the donation of the rice was on the occasion of a calamity and great misfortune, and yet, respondents swept this consideration aside for the apparent simple expedient reason of the political advancement of the Genuino brothers,” the Ombudsman said.

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