Gatchalian eyes cases vs. Pagcor officials over questionable 3rd party auditor

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 24) — Sen. Win Gatchalian on Tuesday said cases will be filed against officials of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) over the agency's multi-billion-peso auditing contract.

"Definitely there is malfeasance," he told CNN Philippines' The Source. "In terms of the bidding procedures, there are definitely highly questionable acts in terms of the bidding procedures that lead to the awarding of contract to this third-party auditor Global ComRCI."

"We will pursue that investigation through the Blue Ribbon Committee," he added.

During a Senate hearing on Monday, Gatchalian grilled Pagcor representatives after a ₱6-billion contract for Global ComRCI to audit gross gaming revenues of offshore gaming operators in 2017 was bared. 

While Global ComRCI seemed to meet the ₱1-billion operating capital requirement, it was certified by a certain Soleil Chartered Bank which is not registered with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, he noted.

Gatchalian said according to Republic Act No. 11590 "the third-party auditor shall be independent, reputable, internationally-known, and duly accredited as such by an accrediting or similar agency recognized by industry experts."

Given what was discovered, the senator said it cannot be guaranteed that the gross gaming revenue that is remitted to the government is accurate.

There may also be errors on the taxes being collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Pagcor since it was also discovered that Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) in the country have the tendency to undervalue.

"We found out that they are not paying the right taxes," the senator said. "In fact, the deficiency in terms of taxes is about ₱3-4 million."

Gatchalian, who is also chairperson of the ways and means committee, said the report on its recommendations on the issues surrounding POGOs may be sent out to the panel's members on Tuesday until Wednesday for their further study and signing.

Whatever the outcome will be, he said the Philippine economy will not collapse if POGOs will be banned.

"POGO has contributed very little to the overall economy, it's less than a percent of our total GDP… in terms of employment it's also less than a percent," Gatchalian pointed out.

Pagcor did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.