What Went Before: Rice aid from Aruze Corp.
Kazuo Okada’s Aruze Corp. donated 300 metric tons of rice to typhoon victims in the Philippines in July 2008 through the initiative of then Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) chairman Efraim Genuino.
Tiger Resorts, Leisure and Entertainment Inc., a trade name of Aruze Corp., is one of the four companies that were granted the authority to build, own and operate integrated resorts in the multibillion-dollar Pagcor project Entertainment City Manila that is being built on Manila Bay.
In 2010, Pagcor officials said that of the 300 MT of rice packed in 10,000 30-kilogram bags, close to 49 MT (worth P1.4 million) were allegedly diverted to beef up the mayoral campaign of Genuino’s two sons, Anthony and Erwin, during the May 2010 elections.
The goods were intended for the victims of Typhoon “Frank” that hit the country in late June 2008.
A year after disclosing the alleged anomaly, Pagcor officials on July 18, 2011, charged the Genuinos, former Pagcor corporate communications chief Edward “Dodie” King and a former official of Trace Computer College that the Genuinos own with malversation of public funds.
Pagcor president Jorge Sarmiento said that the state gaming firm pursued reports that Genuino had verbally instructed King to bring the rice shipment from the Port of Manila to the Pagcor’s warehouse in Imus, Cavite.
Citing Pagcor records, Sarmiento said 6,500 sacks of rice were turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development on July 8, 2008, for distribution to individuals displaced by the typhoon while the rest were taken to the warehouse in Imus.
Pagcor employees claimed King directed them on Dec. 23, 2009, to transfer the rice from the Cavite warehouse to a private rice miller in Biñan, Laguna, where the rice was remilled.
Aside from allegedly misappropriating the donated rice, he said Genuino and King approved the payment of some P1.6 million for the warehousing, cargo and repacking of the staple.
Since they were stored in the warehouse for more than a year, most of the donated rice was already supposedly rotting when Genuino ordered King to remill it.
Sarmiento claimed Genuino and King then agreed to a “barter trade” wherein the rice miller replaced the remilled donated rice with the much cheaper “Angelica rice.”
The rice was then repacked into smaller 5-kg sacks printed with the names and faces of Erwin and Anthony, who both used the catchphrase “Ang Bagong Mukha” (The New Face) as their campaign slogan.
The repacked rice was then allegedly distributed in Los Baños and Makati City to aid the mayoral bids of Genuino’s sons.
Anthony won the mayoral race in Los Baños, Laguna province, despite allegations that he was not a resident of the town while his brother Erwin lost his bid in Makati to Jejomar Erwin Binay, son of then mayor and now Vice President Jejomar Binay. Ana Roa, Inquirer Research
Sources: Inquirer Archives
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