Aquino continues to play blind to Naguiat’s culpability
President Aquino misses the point in the Wynn Resorts controversy when he reduced it into just losing one prospective investor.
Aquino said he won’t lose sleep if Wynn, whose intra-corporate fight with his partner, Kazuo Okada, exposed the bribes showered by the latter to officials of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation including the current chair, Cristino Naguiat, Jr., does not invest in the Philippines because there’s a long list of foreign investors interested to come.
Aquino preferred to play blind to the issue of unabated corruption raised in the investigation report made by former Federal Bureau of Investigation Louis Freeh commissioned by Wynn Resorts such as, despite his anti-corruption agenda, “Official corruption in the Philippine gaming industry is ‘deeply ingrained.’
The report mentioned a member of the board of Wynn Resorts recalling Okada’s statement that “Conducting business in the Philippines was all a matter of ‘hiring the right people’ to pay other people.
Aquino is dreaming if he believes his anti-corruption rhetoric has eliminated corruption in the government. That is something that might affect the decision of those in the long list of prospective investors that Aquino was boasting about.
How Aquino handles allegations of corruption involving his kaibigan, kamag-anak and kabarilan would help guide businessmen how to conduct their business in the country.
Aquino has declared innocent his Naguiat, his college classmate whom he appointed chairman Pagcor,one of the government’s cash cows, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, of allegations of unethical behavior by accepting cash and other gifts from one of the firms that Pagcor is regulating.
The allegations surfaced in the intra-corporate war between Steve Wynn, chief operating officer of Wynn Resorts, and his former partner Okada, whose Universal Entertainment Corp is putting up a casino at the Manila Bay.
Freeh’s investigation revealed that just like his predecessor, Efraim Genuino, Naguiat has been a recipient of the generous hospitality of Wynn Resorts in their gambling facility in Macau.
Freeh’s investigation showed several trips by Naguiat in Macau. But the most staggering was the Sept. 22-26, 2010 trip of Naguiat to Wynn Macau that cost Wynn resorts more than $50,000. That included stay in the $6,000 a night villa.
Naguiat was accompanied by his wife, Maria Teresa Socorro Naguiat, their three children and their nanny.
The Naguiats were accompanied by another Pagcor official Rogelio Bangsil, who also brought along his wife.
On June 6 to 10, 2011, Mrs. Naguiat, unaccompanied by her husband, was also hosted by Wynn resorts.
The President has not asked Naguiat to resign even as he belatedly asked Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa to investigate Wynn’s allegations of bribery.
Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said it was up to Naguiat to decide whether to heed the calls for a leave of absence, or even resignation.“Any call for resignation [or leave] for any office, we leave it to the discretion of the official [concerned]. Bahala na sya diyan,” she said.Naguiat said Monday that he is not resigning insisting that he has done nothing wrong. “Hindi (mag-reresign). Wala akong ginagawang masama,” he said Monday after getting support from members of the House of Representative and of all people, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Sen. Gregorio Honasan.
Reiterating that it is “industry practice”, Naguiat said there’s no conflict in his job as gaming regulator and accepting favor from a firm that he is regulating.
“Para sa isang kwarto, para sa isang maliit na kwarto, $2 billion ang investment nila [Okada's Universal Entertainment], nakakatawa naman na ma-impleuwensiyahan ako sa isang kwarto,” he said.
Maliit lang pala na kuwarto, why didn’t he just pay for it?
If there was nothing wrong in what he did he hide his identity when he checked in that $6,000 a day villa?
Here’s a portion of the Freeh report which said Naguiat was identified as “Incognito”. Incognito means without being known; in disguise; in an assumed character.
“Chairman Naguiat did not identify himself and Mr. Okada’s representative insisted that his stay there be ‘Incognito.’
“Accordingly, the bulk of the charges for the trip are reflected on the City Ledger Account as attributable to ‘Suzzane Bangsil,’ the wife of Rogelio Bangsil, a senior Pagcor official and Chairman Naguiat’s employee. However, interviews,photo indentification and documentary evidence clearly establish that Chairman Naguiat was the “Incognito”guest and direct beneficiary of these payments.
“Investigation has in fact determined that Chairman naguiat was registered as an ‘Incognito’ VIP guest with Suzzane Bangsil’s reservation. Therefore, this US$50,523.22 was paid for Chairman Naguiat’s benefit.”