Solons grill Pagcor, COA over snail pace of cases vs GenuinoBy Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines— Members of the House committee on good government and public accountability on Tuesday grilled representatives from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) and Commission on Audit for taking too long in resolving anomalies being linked to Pagcor’s former chairman Efraim Genuino.
Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño, who filed House Resolution 98 back in 2010 which called for an investigation on various anomalies linked to Pagcor’s previous management, lambasted how the agency was wasting so much time in resolving the cases. “You took one year to prepare the cases, one year for the DOJ to build up the cases before it is brought to the Ombudsman.”
“Now we will have to wait for the Ombudsman, masyado ho yatang mabagal ang takbo ng kaso (the case has been dragged too long in the courts),” he said, after being briefed on the developments on cases filed by Pagcor against Genuino and other officials.
Aside from the issue on food purchases for the PNP, the resolution sought to probe alleged anomalies linked to Genuino’s Batang Iwas Droga (BIDA) Foundation Inc. and the movie Baler. It also raised questions on Genuino’s alleged unaccounted assets since 2008.
Lawyer Jay Daniel Santiago, Pagcor’s chief legal counsel, said that save for the issue on the P21.119 million worth of food purchases made by Genuino for the Philippine National Police back in July 2010, all other issues covered by HR 98 have been dealt with and were pending for evaluation and approval by the Ombudsman.
Under fire for the slow pace of developments on the said cases, he defended Pagcor’s actions and said that they had to carefully review “voluminous documents to ensure that the cases are supported and that those responsible are held responsible.”
“We did our job as far as we’re concerned. We made sure that the cases are sound and that we can prosecute properly,” Santiago told the panel.
When quizzed why Pagcor chose to file its cases with the DOJ instead of directly going to the Ombudsman, he said that it was because former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez was still in office at the time.
“We deemed it more proper to go to the DOJ,” he said.
“The length of time (the cases took) as far as the DOJ is concerned (is that) all of the accused were given due process. They had to be accorded due process–filing their replies, manifestations and counter affidavits,” Santiago added.
Surigao del Sur Representative Philip Pichay meanwhile berated the COA for being “either incompetent or sleeping on the job” in relation to its actions on the Pagcor anomalies.
The lawmaker seemed annoyed after he was told that COA has not made any other moves after it disallowed payments for P26 million worth of tickets to the movie Baler as its disbursement was not supported by documents. “It happened in 2008, hanggang ngayon disallowance pa rin? Ano ba ang role ng COA? You are letting it slip without recovering the money.”
Lawyer Resureccion Quieta, COA’s supervising auditor for the Pagcor cases, said that the matter was still pending with their main office and that they had to wait for its decision before the issue was brought to the DOJ.
Hearing this, Casino said that Congress may need to “look into a speedier way for such high profile cases. People expect the government to act quicker for these cases.”