Koko to probe $30M Pagcor’s bribery raps

SENATOR Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, said the Senate Committee on Games and Amusement would investigate allegations of bribery in the Entertainment City project of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor).

Pimentel, head of the said committee took the move following news reports indicated that Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada’s Universal Entertainment had paid as much as $30 million to a former Pagcor consultant, Rodolfo Soriano, in 2010 allegedly to secure a license to operate a casino in the state-run firm’s Entertainment City project due to open next year.

The news reports said that Soriano, who has close ties to key members of the administration of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, received the payments as Universal was lobbying for tax and other government concessions to boost the profitability of a $2-billion casino it was developing in Pagcor’s Entertainment City project in Manila Bay.

“This is a serious allegation that merits a full-blown investigation by the Senate,” Pimentel said.

“Pagcor’s Entertainment City is 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,” the senator pointed out.

He added, “We have to salvage the reputation of this big project as well as of the innocent locators therein.”

Pimentel said his committee would issue summons to Soriano and other former and current Pagcor officials to shed light on the matter.

“The investigation is a matter of national importance as we need to plug loopholes in the law that allow under-the-table deals to take place,” Pimentel said.

“Even as the alleged bribery took place during the previous administration, we need to find out the truth as the Aquino administration is determined to adhere to the daang matuwid or the straight path,” he added.

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