‘Ex-TRC exec convicted in pork scam served as rep for 2 Pogos’

‘Ex-TRC exec convicted in pork scam served as rep for 2 Pogos’

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 04:55 AM June 18, 2024

Risa Hontiveros —SENATE PRIB Dennis Cunanan

Sen. Risa Hontiveros —Senate PRIB                                                     Former TRC deputy director general Dennis Cunanan

MANILA, Philippines — A former government official convicted three times for his role in the P10-billion pork barrel racket served as an “authorized representative” of two raided Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos) in Central Luzon, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said on Monday.

Dennis Cunanan, who used to head the defunct Technology Resource Center (TRC), was named in documents submitted separately by Hongsheng Gaming Technology Inc. and Lucky South 99 Ltd. Co. to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) in 2020, according to the chair of the Senate women and children committee.


READ: 3 ex-gov’t officials convicted for graft, malversation


Cunanan has been sentenced to multiple prison terms after being found guilty in three separate cases over the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund or the discontinued pork barrel of lawmakers when he was still the TRC deputy director general. The cases are on appeal.

Hongsheng was the lessee of the 7.9-hectare property in Bamban town, Tarlac province, raided by the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) in February last year.

The facility reopened a few months later under the business name Zun Yuan Technology Inc., which became the subject of a similar raid carried out by law enforcement agencies on March 13.

Lucky South 99, on the other hand, was the target of the PAOCC’s June 4 raid on a sprawling compound in Porac, Pampanga province.

Bamban, Porac link

Hontiveros said Cunanan had apparently used his knowledge from his involvement in “one of the largest corruption scandals our country has ever seen” to facilitate the Pogo companies’ business operations.

“This only showed that there’s really a connection between the Pogos in Bamban and Porac. It appears that the scammers have all come together,” she said in a statement.


Hontiveros’ committee is looking into allegations that the Pogo hubs were being used for human trafficking, scamming and other criminal activities, often involving foreigners, mostly Chinese nationals.

Independent consultant

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian earlier said he suspected that the two facilities in Central Luzon were connected after authorities found that some of the Filipino workers who had escaped during the raid on Zun Yuan in Bamban were among those taken into custody after the Porac operation.

There was no immediate comment from Cunanan’s camp.

But in a June 13 statement to local media in Pampanga, Iryl Boco, who introduced himself as Cunanan’s legal counsel, addressed earlier reports about his alleged ties to Pogos, saying it was “unfortunate that Mr. Cunanan has been portrayed as someone facilitating the entry of Pogos into government relations.”

The statement claimed that Cunanan “has not been affiliated with any Pogo since October 2022.”

“Any insinuations of his continued involvement are misleading and incorrect,” it added.

Cunanan’s sole involvement was as an “independent consultant” on “corporate communication and government relations services,” and never in any executive or managerial position, according to the statement.

“It seems that Pogos are deliberately tapping former and present (government) officials they can easily corrupt,” Hontiveros said, citing documents obtained by her office.

In a Sept. 10, 2020, letter to then Pagcor chair Andrea Domingo, Hongsheng president and CEO Thelma Barrago Laranan supposedly wrote that she and Cunanan were both “authorized representatives” of the company in applying for a license from the state gaming regulator. In another letter dated Oct. 20, 2020, purportedly written by Cunanan, he told Domingo that he was the designated representative of Lucky South 99 in securing a permit for its “e-casino operations.”

“Currently, we are engaged in the export of services by way of business process outsourcing, serving as an independent contractor performing and offering front and back office services,” according to the letter purportedly signed by Cunanan.

Call to end Pogos

Hontiveros said her committee would invite Cunanan, also a former vice mayor of Magalang, Pampanga, to appear at the resumption of the investigation.

As deputy head of the TRC, also formerly called the Technology and Livelihood Resource Center, Cunanan was accused of receiving kickbacks in exchange for his agency’s endorsement of phantom projects controlled by the alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.

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He served as the TRC’s deputy director general from 2004 to 2010. The TRC, an attached Department of Science and Technology agency, was abolished in 2014. —with a report from Inquirer Research

TAGS: POGOs, Risa Hontiveros, Sherwin Gatchalian

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