The Office of the Ombudsman on Friday filed graft charges at the Sandiganbayan against former Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) Chairman Efraim Genuino and several others in connection with the release of P37 million to the Philippine Amateur Swimming Association Inc. (PASA) for the training of swimmers for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Based on a charge sheet filed by the Ombudsman, the funds were used to pay for the use of the aquatic facility of Trace Aquatic Center (TAC) which was a sports facility allegedly owned by Genuino and his family.
Likewise named respondents were former Pagcor President Rafael Francisco; former Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications and Services Department Edward King; former Executive Vice President and Head of the Internal Audit Department Rene Figueroa; former Vice President, Accounting Department Ester Hernandez, and; former Assistant Vice President, Internal Audit Department Valente Custodio.
Former Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William Ramirez and former PASA President Mark Joseph were also included in the charge sheet.
Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer I Cathy Cardino-Samson of the Ombudsman accused the respondents of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
According to the charge sheet, Francisco entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Joseph after the latter proposed to Genuino that Pagcor fund the swimmers’ training for the 2012 Olympic Games.
“[T]he MOA was executed even before the PAGCOR Board of Directors could have deliberated on the matter,” it said.
Instead of the funds being released to the PSC to form part of the National Sports Development Fund as provided for by law, Ramirez allegedly directed or authorized Pagcor to release its funds “directly and specifically” to PASA supposedly despite lack of authority to issue such a directive.
“Accused Genuino and Francisco signed the checks disbursing PAGCOR funds totaling P37,063,488.21 in favor of PASA, and ordered or authorized the disbursement of said funds directly to PASA,” the Ombudsman said.
The Ombudsman added that the release of the funds to PASA would not have been completed without King, Figueroa, Hernandez and Custodio’s acts as recommending authorities or alternate signatories to the checks, including their issuance of recommendatory memoranda and marginal notes.
It said that the respondents allegedly caused undue injury to the government in the amount of P37.06 million and/or allegedly gave unwarranted benefits, preference or advantage to PASA and/or TAC.
Meanwhile, in a separate charge sheet, the Ombudsman accused the same respondents of violating Section 3(e) of the anti-graft law in connection with the “exorbitant and excessive” consultancy deals of P910,000 that Joseph allegedly entered into in 2007 and 2008 for the maintenance of the timing and computer systems of TAC, which was then being used by the PASA athletes.