In the Philippines, things start getting messy when the politicians begin to get involved. So Kazuo Okada probably has reason to worry now that Philippine Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago has formally filed a resolution seeking a Senate inquiry on the bribery allegations made against Okada and former Pagcor head honcho Efraim Genuino and his alleged “bag man”, Rodolfo Soriano.
The always outspoken senator – she’s a judge-elect of the International Criminal Court, by the way – filed Senate Resolution 901, one that will allow the Philippine senate to direct the proper Senate committee to conduct an inquiry in to help in the legislation surrounding new allegations involving Genuino and Soriano receiving bribe money from Okada’s Universal Entertainment company. According to the report by Reuters that bared this new information, Soriano, considered a confidante of Genuino, received $5 million through People’s Technology Holding Ltd with the money being transferred from Aruze USA, Universal Entertainment’s Nevada-registered subsidiary.
With this report potentially endangering Universal’s contract with Pagcor to build a casino resort at Entertainment City, Senator Defensor-Santiago is taking the initiative to get to the bottom of the scandal. “The legislature should recommend the filing of proper charges with the Office of the Ombudsman, should it find that there is probable cause that certain PAGCOR officials and employees have received millions of dollars in bribes,” the senator said in the measure, as quoted by GMA News.
In addition, Senator Defensor-Santiago also indicated that steps need to prevent something like this from happening again. In so doing, the senator is calling for the government’s legislative branch to be more pro-active and stricter in providing harsher penalties on any government official who gives what she describes as “blanket authority” to consultants and their transactions on behalf of the agency they’re representing or, in a bigger scale, the Philippine government itself.
“The legislature should also review Pagcor charter, and provide for stricter guidelines on granting franchises to foreign entities,” the Philippine senator said.
In the end, a lot of people could be adversely affected by this development. If found guilty, Okada’s Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment Inc could lose its license from Pagcor. In a statement, the agency reiterated as much, saying that “while a license for the operation of a casino facility in the Entertainment City has already been issued in favor of Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment Inc., the state-owned gaming agency can still cancel the said license if it is proven that they have indeed resorted to bribery in order to secure the said license.”
As for Genuino and Soriano, the Philippine Department of Justice officially recommended the filing of charges of plunder, graft and corruption, and malversation of public funds against the former a few months ago while the latter already has a plunder case filed against him by Pagcor last year.