BUSINESS

Gov’t officials want Pagcor probe to be put to rest

TAGs: government, Kazuo Okada, PAGCOR, Steve Wynn

pagcor naguiat probeLocal lawmakers in the Philippines have voiced their support of putting the bribery case against Pagcor chairman Cristino Naguiat Jr. to rest even after Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Teddy Casiño filed a resolution before the House committee on good government and public accountability to further investigate Naguiat and other Pagcor officials for receiving bribes with the allegations made by the US-based Wynn Resorts.According to the Wynn, Naguiat and his family were the supposed recipients of $110,000 worth of accommodations from Japanese casino magnate Kazuo Okada, who allegedly paid for the Pagcor officials’ stay in the most expensive suite of the Wynn Macau back in 2010 worth approximately $6,000 a night. In return for these lavish gifts, Okuda and his company Universal Entertainment, would supposedly receive preferential treatment from Naguiat as it relates to Universal Entertainment’s plans of building a $2-billion casino resort in the Philippines.

But House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. quickly came to the defense of Naguiat. “As far as I can remember, the committee on games and amusement had a hearing and no less than the panel chair [Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing], together with his members, cleared Chairman Naguiat,” Belmonte said in a statement.

For his part, Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing, chairman of the committee on games and amusements, echoed Belmonte’s sentiments, saying that Casiño’s resolution was nothing more than “forum shopping.” and that Naguiat was merely “collateral damage” in the clash of the two casino titans.

“There is no impropriety here. We are falling into the trap and machinations of Mr. Steve Wynn whose main objective is to oust Okada from his casino firm,” Bagatsing said.

With the case apparently behind them, lawmakers have already voiced their support of Pagcor’s continued push to build the extravagant and ambitious $5-billion Entertainment City project, a Las Vegas-style sub-city that is expected to be one of the driving forces in bringing tourism in the Philippines to a whole new level.

For a country that recently released a pretty catchy tag line of “It’s More Fun In The Philippines”, the proposed Entertainment City project will not only give credibility to that phrase, but could also serve as the driving force for the Philippines to become one of the premier gambling markets in the entire Asia-Pacific region, potentially giving Macau and Singapore a run for gambling supremacy in the region.

All these cases of back-talking, snake-biting, and alleged improprieties won’t help that cause. But now that everything appears to have been put to bed, everyone can now turn their attention to making the whole Entertainment City project come to life.

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