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Sandigan denies ex-Pagcor chief’s plea to be cleared of malversation

The Sandiganbayan has denied the plea for acquittal of former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) chairperson Efraim Genuino for using a Supreme Court (SC) decision that tackled another issue not related to his criminal cases in his motion.

Genuino faces 19 graft and 20 malversation cases filed against him by the Ombudsman.

“Thus, the guilt or innocence of the accused may only be determined by the court after a consideration of the totality of evidence submitted by the parties,” the court said in the resolution written by Division Chairperson and Presiding Justice Amparo-Cabotaje-Tang, with the concurrence of Associate Justices Bernelito Fernandez and Ronald Moreno.

In his manifestation and motion, Genuino said the high court held that the funds disbursed by PAGCOR for the purchase of “Baler” movie tickets came from the agency’s Operating Expense (OPEX) Fund which is separate and distinct from the 5 percent franchise tax and 50 percent share of the government.

The SC, he added, held that the OPEX Fund is part of PAGCOR’s private corporate funds and outside the audit jurisdiction of the Commission on Audit.

Genuino also noted the P26.7 million utilized for the tickets were within the powers of PAGCOR as the transaction with BIDA Foundation was socio-civic in nature.

Even prosecution witnesses admitted that PAGCOR does not receive funding from the government and generates its own income revenue, which means that there was no undue injury to the government, Genuino said.

For the other cases, Genuino explained the funds used for their Corporate Social Responsibility project formed part of the the agency’s private corporate funds.

However, the Sandiganba an said that the SC decision tackled the jurisdiction of COA to audit PAGCOR funds which is not related to the criminal charges against him.

The court noted that the present cases, 19 graft and 20 malversation, stemmed from the criminal information filed by the Ombudsman in 2013 and not on the notices of disallowance issued by COA.

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