6 Nayong Pilipino execs charged with graft over free South Korean tours
MANILA, Philippines – Six former officials of the Nayong Pilipino Foundation Inc. (NPFI) have been charged with graft by the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly receiving gifts, including a free tour to South Korea’s scenic Jeju Island.
In a statement on Monday, the Office said that Ombudsman Samuel Martires filed the cases against former NPFI board chair Patricia Yvette Malabanan Ocampo-Desiongco and other ex-board members — Alicia Manuel, Rex Anthony Villegas, Caroline Lansang, Elizabeth Mercado, and Efraim Perez.
This was over the complaint filed by their fellow NPFI board member Maria Fema Duterte — said to be a distant cousin of President Rodrigo Duterte — after the said officials availed of a free roundtrip private jet flight to Jeju Island, plus free accommodations from Landing International Development Limited (LIDL).
This supposedly happened while LIDL and the NPFI were under negotiations for a lease contract. LIDL controls Landing Philippines, a land and resort developer that was set to construct and open NayonLanding, a large, indoor theme park about the country’s culture. Landing’s investment is reported to be around $1.5 billion.
Meanwhile, NPFI is a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC). All six are accused of violating the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019) and Article 211 (indirect bribery) of the Revised Penal Code.
“The Ombudsman found that from 29 September 2017 to 01 October 2017, NPFI officials availed themselves of free transportation by private jet going to and from Jeju Island and free accommodations offered by Landing International Development Limited (LIDL) to witness and grace the grand opening of the Shinwa Theme Park in South Korea,” the Ombudsman said.
“Under Section 3(b) of R.A. No. 3019, public officials are prohibited from directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present, share, percentage, or benefit, for himself or for any other person, in connection with any contract or transaction between the government wherein the public officer in his official capacity has to intervene under the law,” the graft-probing body said.
In an August 2018 report, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that Ocampo was about to deliver a speech in the groundbreaking for the NayonLanding site when President Duterte sacked her and the other board members.
NayonLanding was supposed to be built on a 9.5-hectare property in Entertainment City, Manila, that is owned by NPFI.
Martires said that the cases had already been filed before the Sandiganbayan.
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