Philippine lawmakers are getting more and more involved in the bribery allegations surrounding past officials of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. Days after the House Committee on Good Government revealed its intentions to act on a two-year-old resolution filed by Representatives Teodoro Casiño and Neri Colmenares to investigate the anomalous wheeling and dealing involving Pagcor’s previous administration, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, also served notice.
As the Games and Amusements Committee chairman, Pimentel III announced that he would conduct his own investigation on the allegations that have hounded Pagcor and the reported $30 million one of its former consultants allegedly received from. Kazuo Okada’s Universal Entertainment.
Pimentel III was quoted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer talking about the importance of the Senate launching an investigation even if the alleged episode occurred during the previous administration. “This is a serious allegation that merits a full-blown investigation by the Senate,” Pimentel said before adding, “We need to find out the truth as the Aquino administration is determined to adhere to the daang matuwid or straight path.”
The senator also said that a full-blown investigation to get to the bottom of this controversy is necessary to ensure foreign investors that the government is doing everything it can to douse any and all improprieties the previous Pagcor administration allegedly committed during its time in power. The senator hinted that there could be long-lasting repercussions if a resolution on the case isn’t met, particularly as it relates to Pagcor’s Entertainment City, which Pimentel described as a “big-ticket project of the national government aimed at drawing more tourists to the country”.
“It should not be tainted at all by any hint of impropriety or wrongdoing,” he added.
It should be noted that one of Pimentel’s colleagues in the senate, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, initially filed Senate Resolution 901 that would allow the Philippine senate to direct the proper Senate committee to conduct an inquiry to help in the legislation surrounding new allegations involving Soriano and former Pagcor chief Efraim Genuino receiving bribe money from Okada’s Universal Entertainment company.
As it stands, Pimentel’s intentions to launch an investigation on the on-going issue will follow the lead of two committees in the House of Representatives, both of which are already investigating the alleged bribery in aid of legislation. One of them, the House committee on games and amusement, already conducted a hearing last week. Meanwhile, the House good government committee, at the urging of Casiño and Neri Colmenare, is set to revive a probe that began in 2010 when the two initially filed the resolution to investigate “various multimillion-peso anomalies attending” Pagcor during the Arroyo administration.