Ben Everdone

2 unauthorized transactions stopped at Pagcor, DPWH

2 unauthorized transactions stopped at Pagcor, DPWH
By Aurea Calica and Jess Diaz
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Two unauthorized million-peso transactions were stopped at the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

At PAGCOR, Chairman Cristino Naguiat managed to stop a P21.1-million disbursement by a resigned employee.

Jay Santiago, Naguiat’s lawyer, identified the former employee as Pedrito Adao, who was trying to encash a P21.1-million check at a bank. “The encashment was stopped because the bank, taking cognizance of the PAGCOR letter, confirmed with us,” he said.

Naguiat said he had sent a letter to banks informing them that he was the new signatory for all checks of PAGCOR.

The check, issued before he assumed office, was not given clearance, he added.

At the DPWH, Secretary Rogelio Singson stopped an P18-million “midnight contract” for the rehabilitation of a portion of the national highway in Guiuan, Eastern Samar after Rep. Ben Evardone informed him that the 11th-hour deal could result in the dissipation of funds allotted for the road project.

In his letter, Evardone said former public works secretary Victor Domingo inexplicably transferred the P18 million to the town of Guiuan on June 25, or five days before he was to end his stewardship of the DPWH.

The town hired a contractor because it has no engineering equipment and personnel, he added.

Domingo should not have transferred the funds to a local government that has no capability to undertake a road or construction project, he added.

Evardone said at the time Domingo transferred the funds, DPWH field personnel in Eastern Visayas had already started the bidding process for the project.

“They have advertized the project twice and have attracted at least eight bidders, who have already purchased bidding documents. Amid his field personnel’s preparations, out of the blue, Domingo gave away the funds to the town of Guiuan under a memorandum of agreement,” he said.

“He did not consult his district engineer, he did not consult his regional director for Eastern Visayas, not even his undersecretary for the Visayas,” he said.

“He alone made the decision, which is highly suspicious and questionable. “We don’t want any more taxpayers’ money wasted on projects poorly done and on things that my provincemates do not need.

“For instance, we have so many road signs and railings along roads that are rutted and need repairs. The money should have instead been used for rehabilitating these thoroughfares.” Evardone said the road signs and railings were the projects of his predecessor, defeated Rep. Teodulo Coquilla.

“I do not know why tens of millions of public funds had to be spent on these materials when the money would have been put to better use had they repairs the rutted roads instead.”

Naguiat: Banks had to clear checks with us

Naguiat, who serves as president of Eastern Pangasinan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc., said he informed various banks to verify with the new PAGCOR management first before clearing checks.

Based on reports, Naguiat, a classmate of President Aquino at the Ateneo de Manila University, resigned from PAGCOR in 2001 due to differences with his predecessor, Efraim Genuino.

Naguiat had served for 15 years as chief financial officer of Pagcor, managing head of its treasury department and managing head of its audit department, all under the leadership of Alice Reyes who led the gambling agency from 1986 to 2001.

Naguiat said aside from these kinds of cases, Mr. Aquino also asked him to look into possible midnight deals entered into by his predecessor.

There were reportedly a lot of casino and poker licenses granted by Genuino’s board involving multi-million peso contracts. Earlier, Mr. Aquino’s spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the amount involved was P26 million.

However, Naguiat clarified it was P21 million.