Local media reports are linking Tengco and other former Pagcor personnel to the alleged disappearance of a performance bond. The bond is worth PHP75m (£1.0m/€1.2m/$1.3m) and was posted by an e-sabong company.
Reports say charges have been filed by Joaquin Sy, chairman and chief finance officer of Kamura Highlands Gaming and Holdings. Kamura is licensed by Pagcor to offer online and remote betting on live cockfighting matches and events.
Charges include malversation of public funds, qualified theft and falsification of private and commercial documents before the ombudsman. The disappearance of funds is alleged to have taken place in July 2022.
In addition to Tengco, charges have been filed against officer Dianne Erica Jogno and several other former Pagcor senior staff. These include former Pagcor chief Andrea Domingo and ex-board members Gabriel Claudio, Carmen Pedrosa, Reynaldo Concordia and James Patrick Bondoc.
Pedrosa and Concordia have passed away since the alleged disappearance took place last year. Tengco only assumed office in August 2022, the month after the incident is said to have taken place.
Failure to locate the missing bond
The cash performance bond relates to Kamura and its e-sabong operations last year. Sy said he posted the bond at Pagcor’s Manila office through two managers’ cheques payable to Pagcor and drawn from his personal bank accounts.
Sy said Pagcor issued official receipts and other documents proving the posting of a bond.
However, Sy said then-Pagcor president Duterte ordered e-sabong operations be halted a few weeks later. Sy wrote to Domingo seeking to withdraw the bond but did not get a response. He continued these efforts until 10 July this year.
Instead, Sy said he received verbal confirmation by Pagcor’s assistant vice-president for finance, Lolita Gonzales, that a cheque of the same amount of the bond was issued in September 2022 in favour of Castro. This, he was told, was immediately cashed.
Pagcor chief taking allegations seriously
In response Tengco said that, while the incident happened during the previous administration, he pledged to find out the truth and determine accountability within the agency.
“While we find it strange that we are included in the alleged charges, we nevertheless will pursue our own investigation and determine what really happened and bring the perpetrators to justice if indeed there was any anomaly,” Tengco said.
Tengco added that an internal investigation will take place despite having not received a formal complaint from the ombudsman.
“We have launched an internal investigation and we are trying to recreate the sequence of events since the department allegedly involved, the E-Sabong Licensing Department, has already been disbanded,” Tengco said.
In addition, Tengco said, former president Duterte had outlawed e-sabong in May 2022. This came ahead of the performance bond being filed in July of the same year.
“The people in the E-Sabong Licensing Department have since been reassigned to other units. We are trying to retrace the supposed anomalous transaction.
“While this happened before we came to Pagcor, the public can rest assured that we will get to the bottom of this. We will respond to the accusations against us in the proper venue once we receive a copy of the alleged charges from the ombudsman.”