Radyo Natin

Alvarez stands firm on death penalty for plunder amid anomalous PAGCOR deal

MANILA — House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Tuesday said he has more reason to retain plunder in the list of crimes punishable by capital punishment in the death penalty bill.
Alvarez made the comment after the hearing of the House Committee on Good Government on the anomalous P3.2 billion lease agreement between the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) and Vanderwood Management Corp.
He tagged former Pagcor chairman Cristino Naguiat and members of the board as well as former Government Corporate Counsel Raoul Creencia who gave the go signal to the deal.
Alvarez urged the House panel led by Surigao Del Sur Rep. Jonny Pimentel to subpoena officials of the original lessee of the property Oceanville Hotel and Spa Corporation, namely Simon Paz, Cornelio Aldon and Mario Leabres.
Alvarez wants to find out why Oceanville sub-leased the property to Vanderwood for only P300,000 a month, the same amount it pays to the City of Manila which owns the property.
Alvarez said the committee will likewise summon former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada to provide them the opportunity to explain their side. Manila government owns the property Museo ng Maynila complex.
The Speaker also noted that Pagcor agreed to pay P13 million per month to Vanderwood, which pays Oceanville P300,000 a month lease for a property intended for casino use that is yet to be constructed at that time.
"You are making the government pay P13 million a month for a facility that is only leased for P300,000 a month from the government also. Aren't you terrified by that?," Alvarez told Naguiat during the hearing.
In response, Naguiat said they asked first the opinion of the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) before pushing through with the deal.
Creencia, in turn, said he gave PAGCOR the discretion to go ahead with the caveat that they should ensure there are no legal impediments against it.
Alvarez said Creencia must have taken pains to ensure that the deal complies with the requirement of the law that the "lessor must have absolute ownership of the property".
In an interview after the hearing, Alvarez said he has requested the Good Government committee to look into the possibility for the panel to be the main complainant in filing charges against responsible officials before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Alvarez said COA has already issued a directive to halt the deal as it violates the procurement law and is highly disadvantageous to the government.
Current PAGCOR officials, headed by Chairman Andrea Domingo, would also likely be liable for plunder if they pushed through with the Vanderwood deal despite the COA disallowance, he noted.
Alvarez is also eyeing the possibility of putting the OGCC and the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) under the Office of the Solicitor General. (PNA)
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Last Modified: 2017-Sep-19 23.31.24 UTC+0800