If I was Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) Chairman Cristino Naguiat, I will definitely order a thorough review of the contract of Sta. Elena Construction and Development Corp. to develop a multi-billion entertainment city in Pasay City.
The project was awarded to the company that is being linked to Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.
Many believe that the politician’s influence may have played a big role in the awarding of the project to Sta. Elena, and many speculate that the bidding may have been rigged.
Almost everyone know that Sta. Elena Construction, headed by Alice Eduardo, cornered all the fat contracts inside the Cagayan Export Processing Zone, including the controversial P5 billion breakwater project in Port Irene due mainly to its rumored connections to the Enrile family.
A friend who wanted to join the bidding a few years ago backed out upon learning that Sta. Elena was joining too.
My friend made a wise decision. Sta. Elena won the contract, saving him thousands of bidding expenses.
I am sure it wouldn’t cost PAGCOR a cent to review the bidding process and examine the documents of all those who joined for the sake of transparency and fair play.
After all, the Pnoy administration is all for transparency. Right, Mr. Naguiat?
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CEPZ haven for illegal activities?
Not only has the Cagayan Export Processing Zone fail to lived up to its purpose, it has also become allegedly the source of illegal activities in the area.
Instead of contributing to the economy, the CEPZ has made only a few filthy rich through questionable business operations such as the importation of used luxury cars, gambling and black sand mining.
Sources at the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said the economic zone has also become the entry point of Chinese nationals, who eventually live and make business in the country without proper documentation.
These Chinese nationals enter the country either as players in the casinos inside the zone or by using investors’ visas even if they do not have the financial capability to put up a business here.
Though it may be true that several junket flights from mainland China arrive in Cagayan every day carrying hundreds of casino players, the money they spend inside the zone do not end up in the country’s coffers but in the pockets of casino owners.
Also, a Customs official told me recently that importers of used luxury cars in Port Irene in Cagayan do not pay the right customs duties and taxes, thereby cheating the government once more.
The economic zone is also used by illegal miners to ship overseas the millions of metric tons of black sand mined illegally in Regions 1 and 2.
I can’t blame Sen. Antonio Trillanes if he wants the CEZA investigated. After all, instead of helping the economy, it has benefited only a few.