Genuino, et al. indicted for 'Baler' movie deal
MANILA - The Office of the Ombudsman ordered the filing of multiple counts of malversation and graft charges against former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) Chairman Efraim Genuino and his colleagues for losses that the government incurred in, among others, the promotion of the film “Baler.”
In a 43-page joint review resolution, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales found probable cause to file one count of count of malversation and another count for violation of Sec. 3(e) in relation to 3(g) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act arising from the promotion of the film “Baler,” a movie production deal between Viva Communications and Batas Iwas Droga Foundation (BIDA).
Indicted officials include Rafael Francisco, Jose Benedicto, Rene Figueroa, Edward King, Ester Hernandez and Valente Custodio.
“The Office found that business losses were effectively shouldered by government funds when Pagcor advanced the cost for 89,000 movie tickets at P300 each or a total of P26,700,000, which was contrary to the scheme approved by Pagcor to merely offer “Baler” movie tickets to casino patrons through the Player Tracking System (PTS) points,” the Ombudsman said in a statement.
The Ombudsman said there were 72,150 unused tickets in the amount of P21,645,000 plus the transmitted sales commission of P474,510, which totaled P22,119,510 representing marketing expenses. Pagcor also spent an advertising expense of P2,064,989.30.
The Ombudsman also noted “interlocking officers” in BIDA ang Pagcor: Cendana was BIDA’s corporate secretary while Genuino, Benedicto, Francisco and King were incorporators of BIDA.
Genuino’s son, Erwin, was also Pagcor executive assistant and executive producer of “Baler.” The Ombudsman found out that resources were used in the post-production and promotion of the movie, making him liable for violation of the graft law.
Morales ordered Erwin’s indictment for violation of Section 7(b)(2) of RA 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officers and Employees).
The same ruling also ordered the filing of 17 counts of malversation and 17 counts of violation of Sec. 3(e) in relation to 3(g) of RA 3019 (Anti-Graft Act) for unlawful donations and payments.
This is in connection, meanwhile, with the alleged realignment of intelligence funds in favor of private entities like BIDA Foundation, BIDA Production, Wildformat Inc., and Pencil First, without any public purpose and without complying with legal and regulatory requirements.
The Ombudsman found again a “favored-son treatment” in the transactions worth more than P50 million used by BIDA to procure goods and services such as tarpaulin, shirts, caps, promotional items, stage production and sponsorship expenses from Pagcor funds.
An additional count of malversation and graft charges were ordered against the respondents for the tri-media advertising placements amounting to more than P63 million used by BIDA to supposedly fund its party-list campaign.
The review showed that Pagcor funded the “Grand Bida March,” the showing of a 13-episode animation series, and the distribution of comic books in 2008 and 2009. These were supposedly enumerated in BIDA’s petition for accreditation before the Commission on Elections.
Meanwhile, Genuino and King will also face another count of malversation of funds in connection with the use of Pagcor funds for the forwarding, storage and brokerage of 300-metric tons of donated rice that were already packed into 10,000 bags at 30kg/bag.
A Japanese firm donated the rice to the Philippine government through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the victims of typhoon “Frank” in 2008.
The Ombudsman said the donated rice were repacked into smaller bags bearing the images and political slogans of brothers Erwin and Anthony Genuino in 2010. It said these were subsequently released to, among others, Trace Computer College owned by the Genuinos.