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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Solon slams charges vs. PAGCOR head

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. slammed the filing of what he termed as “trumped-up” charges against the chairman of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) and nine others before the Office of the Ombudsman.

The case stemmed from the alleged disappearance of P75 million in performance bond posted by an e-sabong firm.

Barzaga, a former chair of the House committee on games and amusement, said PAGCOR chairman Alejandro Tengco has nothing to do with the allegations because the head of the PAGCOR then was Andrea Domingo.

Barzaga said it seems the complaint was meant to harass the PACOR chief.

Among those charged with malversation of public funds, qualified theft and falsification of private and commercial documents with Domingo and Tengco were his chief of staff Dianne Erica Jogno, and former board members Gabriel Claudio, Carmen Pedrosa, Reynaldo Concordia, and James Patrick Bondoc.

Joaquin Sy, chairman of the board and chief finance officer of Kamura Highlands Gaming and Holdings Inc., was the one who filed the complaint.

Tengco was included in the list of respondents even if he only assumed office as PAGCOR chair last week of August last year.

Tengco and Jogno were also charged with complaints of obstruction of justice for “their deliberate concealment of the crimes and unjustified refusal to respond to the letters of the complainant within the period prescribed (by the law).”

Barzaga pointed out that the complaint even included Concordia who died on June 17, 2021, and Pedrosa who passed away on June 8, 2022.

“The complainant doesn’t even know that a person’s death extinguishes civil and criminal liability. They’re blackening the memory of the late PAGCOR board members,” he said.

Barzaga commended Tengco for assuring the public that he would get to the bottom of the matter even if he had nothing to do with it, saying this shows strength of character.

While he thinks that it was “strange” that he was included in the complaint, Tengco earlier vowed to pursue PAGCOR’s own investigation and determine what really happened, and bring the perpetrators to justice if indeed there was any anomaly.”

The PAGCOR chief said he has launched an internal investigation and is trying to recreate the sequence of events.

The other respondents in the case are Jewel Castro and his parents, Rizalina and Simplicio Castro, who were allegedly involved with Kamura.

However, based on the records of Kamura Highlands Gaming and Holdings, Inc. filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), out of the P100 million paid-up capital, Rizalina Camora Castro, Simplicio Castro Lorenzana Jr. and Jewel Camora Castro paid P20 million each or a total of P60 million.

Moreover, in the latest general information sheet filed with SEC, Rizalina Camora Castro is the president and Jewel Camora Castro is the vice-president while Joaquin P. Sy as chief financial officer. Rizalina Camora Castro in the latest stockholder’s information sheet has

paid P24 million and Jewel Camora Castro paid P25 million or a total of P49 million out of the paid-up capital.

Sy alleged that there was illegal issuance and release by PAGCOR of P75 million in checks in favor of Castro, supposedly for the return of a cash performance bond posted for its e-sabong operations last year.

The complainant however said that a few weeks after posting the performance bond, then president Rodrigo Duterte ordered e-sabong operations stopped, which prompted Sy to send a letter to Domingo seeking the withdrawal of the bond.

Sy said he followed up his request several times until July 10 this year, but he did not get any reply.

The complainant however was told by PAGCOR’s assistant vice president for finance Lolita Gonzales that a check worth P75 million had been issued in September last year to Castro.

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