BUSINESSMAN Roberto Ongpin is not done with his overtures to the Duterte government to prevent the closure of his gaming technology company.
A day after the state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) rejected Ongpin’s offer to donate his 49-percent stake in PhilWeb Corp., the businessman added a sweetener of sorts: he’s now offering to build a drug rehabilitation center near his island resort in Quezon.
Pagcor can also use PhilWeb’s income to establish a nationwide network of drug rehabilitation centers, if it decides to take over the company, Ongpin said.
“While one could agree that gambling is undesirable, nothing could be more pernicious than the drug menace which destroys the very fabric of our youth and our society, and which admirably, the President has chosen as his first priority,” he said in a letter to the Pagcor board dated August 19.
On August 3, Ongpin was singled out by President Rodrigo Duterte as an “oligarch” he wanted to “destroy.”
As a result, PhilWeb’s license to provide technology to 131 Pagcor e-Games cafés, which expired August 10, was not renewed, costing the jobs of 6,000 workers.
Ongpin claimed PhilWeb thought of building a model rehab center even before its license expired, on a 2.1-hectare site near Atimonan, Quezon that was used as a “staging center” during the construction of his Balesin luxury resort.
PhilWeb, he said, had appropriated P100 million a year or 10 percent of its profits, and P2 million to P3 million monthly to maintain the center.
“As I said in the beginning, I hope that I will be forgiven for this one last attempt. It is a sincere attempt and no benefit whatsoever will accrue to me since I have already committed to donate all my shares,” Ongpin said.
He also claimed his 49-percent stake should be valued at “at least” P20 billion, because the company had a market capitalization of P40 billion before PhilWeb’s license expired.
The value of the stake has been whittled down to P4 billion to P5 billion after Duterte’s statements sent PhilWeb stock plummeting.
Ongpin had explained he was donating only 49 percent of his 53.76-percent stake in PhilWeb to spare the company from various restrictions imposed on government corporations.
He was to donate the balance of 4.7 percent to a scholarship foundation at Ateneo de Manila University named after his late brother, Jaime Ongpin.