FORMER Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) chairman Efraim Genuino and eight other former officials must pay P26.7 million for movie tickets distributed to casino goers.
The en banc of the Commission on Audit (COA) issued a 16-page decision which sustained the disallowance slapped against Genuino and eight more Pagcor officials.
In their ruling, COA Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan and Commissioners Heidi Mendoza and Rowena Guanzon disallowed the use of Pagcor funds in their purchase of 89,000 movie tickets of “Baler.”
Auditors said the tickets were distributed to 12 Pagcor casino branches, a transaction which is already on-going trial at the Sandiganbayan.
Aside from Genuino, also held liable were former Pagcor directors Rafael Francisco, Manuel Roxas, Philip Lo and Gamaliel Cordoba; former senior vice president Rene Figueroa; and former vice presidents Ester Hernandez, Estela Ramos, Pedro Michael Cendaña 4th.
Former Pagcor vice president Edward King was cleared of liability after evidence showed that he was out of country when tickets were transacted.
Genuino and the other respondents sought reversal of the 2012 adverse COA ruling, saying the use of Pagcor fund for Baler tickets was as valid expense.
The Pagcor executives said that the corporate fund of the agency, which was said to be private in nature, was used in the purchase of the tickets.
However, COA thumbed down the arguments of the officials because their involvement in the purchase of movie tickets was an ulter vires act and, therefore, illegal.
“An ultra vires act is one committed outside the object for which a corporation is created . . . It is null and void and therefore cannot be given any effect,” the ruling read.
The en banc added that COA has the authority to review the transaction of Pagcor, since it is a government-owned or -controlled corporation, and as such, “accounts pertaining to revenues, receipts, expenditures and uses of government funds and properties are subject to general audit jurisdiction.”
“In summary, the purchase of the ‘Baler’ movie tickets was an illegitimate exercise of corporate power as the same was outside and beyond the ambit of the Pagcor’s mandate,” the ruling said succinctly. JOHN CONSTANTINE G. CORDON