THE Sandiganbayan’s Third Division has ordered a trial over graft charges against former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) chairman Efraim Genuino, whose swimming facility allegedly benefited from money he released for the training of Olympic swimmers.
Genuino and other former Pagcor executives had filed motions for reconsideration after a September ruling upholding the Ombudsman’s findings that the release of P37 million to a swimming association for the 2012 Olympics was riddled with anomalies.
But the anti-graft court said the motions were “devoid of merit.”
“An examination of the subject motions for reconsideration shows that accused-movants did not raise any new argument that would warrant a reversal of the Court’s Resolution promulgated on September 9, 2016. They present the same arguments and cite the same rulings to support their contention that there is no probable cause to charge them with violation of Section 3 (e) and (h) of R.A. No. 3019,” the court said.
Republic Act 3019 is the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
“To be sure, the Court had squarely passed upon the aforesaid arguments and the inapplicability of the cited rulings in its questioned Resolution,” the court said.
The motions for reconsideration were filed by Genuino, former Pagcor senior vice president for corporate communications and services Edward King and former vice president Ester Hernandez.
Other respondents were former Pagcor president Rafael Francisco, former executive vice president and head of internal audit Rene Figueroa, and former assistant vice president Valente Custodio.
Former Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William Ramirez and former Philippine Amateur Swimming Association, Inc. President Mark Joseph were also charged.
The Ombudsman found that the funds were released directly to the swimming association instead of the PSC.
The money should have formed part of the PSC’s National Sports Development Fund as provided for by law.
The funds were allegedly used to pay for the use of Trace Aquatic Center, a sports facility allegedly owned by Genuino.
Also, the Ombudsman accused the respondents of graft in connection with the “exorbitant and excessive” consultancy deals that Joseph allegedly entered into in 2007 and 2008 for the maintenance of the timing and computer systems of Trace.
It alleged that P910,000 from Pagcor funds “was documented to have been actually paid” to the contractors.
The Ombudsman said the payment was “unnecessary and exorbitant” because separate Pagcor funds were already disbursed to pay for the rental of Trace’s facilities “which should have included the in-house timing and computer systems.”
It accused Genuino of having “direct or indirect financial or pecuniary interest in the allocation and disbursement of Philippine Sports Commission’s (PSC’s) 5% gross income share/obligatory remittance, from Pagcor funds, which should have formed part of PSC’s National Sports Development Fund.”