MALACAÑANG on Thursday welcomed the Ombudsman’s recommendation to charge former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) chairman Efraim Genuino, Mark Joseph, president of the Philippine Amateur Swimming Association (PASA) and other sports officials with graft in connection with the alleged malversation of public funds between 2007 and 2008.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Ombudsman resolution finding probable cause to indict Genuino, Joseph and other former Pagcor officials is expected to result in a full court trial.
“Let justice take its due course on this issue,” the Palace official said.
A joint resolution dated September 22, 2014 signed by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer 2 Paul Elmer Clemente recommended the filing of graft and criminal charges against Genuino and former Pagcor officials and board members Rafael Francisco, Philip Lo, Danilo Gozo, Manuel Roxas, Rene Figueroa, Ester Hernandez, Valente Custodio and Edward King.
The joint resolution was approved on December 17, 2014 by Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard Mosquera.
“In fine, there is probable cause to indict respondents Genuino, King, Figueroa, Hernandez and Ramirez for one (1) count of Violation of Sec.3(e) of Republic Act 3019, as amended, with regard to the unlawful direct release of public funds amounting to P37,063,488.21 by Pagcor to PASA; to indict respondents Genuino, King, Figueroa, Hernandez, Custodio, Joseph and Ramirez for one (1) count of Violation of Sec. 3(e) of Republic Act 3019, as amended, to the disbursement of public funds by Pagcor amounting to P9 million to PASA, P910,000 of which has been documented for the unnecessary and excessive consultancy services of Jose Arne Navara and/or Synercraft Control Technologies,” the resolution read.
The Ombudsman gave weight to the complainants’ assertion that Pagcor has no authority to release funds directly to PASA and that the agency should have released the money first through the PSC.
Also, a review of the Commission on Audit showed that PASA eventually used the P34 million to pay TRACE Aquatic Complex (TAC) in Los Baños, Laguna, which is owned by the Genuino family.
The resolution paved the way for the filing of graft and criminal charges against Genuino and his co-accused at the Sandiganbayan.
The case stemmed from the unlawful release of P37 million by Pagcor to the Philippine Amateur Swimming Association (PASA) from 2007 to 2008.
Two complaints of graft and corruption were separately filed at the Ombudsman by Pagcor and a group composed of 11 athletes, coaches and sports enthusiasts against Genuino, other Pagcor board members and officers, as well as several private individuals.
Former Sen. Nikki Coseteng filed corruption and money laundering charges against Genuino, former Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez and Joseph at the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the illegal release of Pagcor funds to PASA for the four-year program heading to the 2012 London Olympics but which was used for the maintenance and upkeep of the swimming pools of the Trace Aquatic Center in Laguna.
Under the law, funds from Pagcor, a government-owned-and-controlled-corporation, should be coursed through the Philippine Sports Commission, the government’s funding arm in sports.