No Bribery if Beneficial to Government?
A lot of first year law students may have rushed to consult their Criminal Law 2 books after reading this news report:
(above) Pagcor Chairman and Macau Visitor Cristino Naguiat
Palace: Freebies for Pagcor OK
Malacañang on Tuesday said there was nothing wrong with Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) Chairman Cristino Naguiat accepting free accommodations and gifts from the Wynn chain of casino hotels as this was “an industry practice and saves expenses for the government.”
According to presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, Naguiat did not personally profit from the freebies.
In a press briefing, Lacierda said President Benigno Aquino III had accepted Naguiat’s explanation on the matter which was revealed in a dispute between Wynn Resorts Ltd. chief executive Steve Wynn and Japanese gambling tycoon Kazuo Okada.
Wynn had accused Okada of making improper cash payments and gifts totaling about $110,000 to gaming regulators, including those in Philippines—in this case, Pagcor.
The report alleged that Pagcor officials had received dinners, Chanel bags and suites at Wynn Macau, all courtesy of Okada, chair of Universal Entertainment Corp.
“(The President has accepted Naguiat’s explanation) in the matter of being able to save on costs, that is beneficial to the government and chair Naguiat never profited from it personally anyway,” Lacierda said.
“Look, it’s cheaper for us: When they come here we pay for them and when we go there they pay for (our) accommodations. From that perspective, we save more on the cost,” he said.
Asked whether this kind of arrangement was not in conflict with the President’s clean governance campaign, Lacierda said there was no conflict because Okada had been granted a provisional license as far back as 2008 to do business with Pagcor.
(Source: Philippine Inquirer dated February 22, 2012)
Now, a reading of the provision on Indirect Bribery in the Revised Penal Code reads as follows:
Art. 211. Indirect bribery. — The penalties of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods, and public censure shall be imposed upon any public officer who shall accept gifts offered to him by reason of his office. (As amended by Batas Pambansa Blg. 872, June 10, 1985).
Furthermore, Republic Act No. 3019 otherwise known as the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act”, provides:
Sec. 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. – In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful:
xxx xxx xxx
(c) Directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present or other pecuniary or material benefit, for himself or for another, from any person for whom the public officer, in any manner or capacity, has secured or obtained, or will secure or obtain, any Government permit or license, in consideration for the help given or to be given, without prejudice to Section thirteen of this Act.
Still, another applicable provision in the Republic Act No. 6713, otherwise known as “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees” should be taken into consideration:
Section 7. Prohibited Acts and Transactions. – In addition to acts and omissions of public officials and employees now prescribed in the Constitution and existing laws, the following shall constitute prohibited acts and transactions of any public official and employee and are hereby declared to be unlawful:
(d) Solicitation or acceptance of gifts. – Public officials and employees shall not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of their office.
The Macau trip is seen to bring in Big time Gambling in the Philippines.
From the looks of it, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation Chairman and General Manager Cristino Naguiat can be CHARGED FOR GRAFT, INDIRECT BRIBERY and violation of the CONDUCT AND ETHICAL STANDARDS FOR PUBLIC OFFICIAL. Mind you, graft charges against public officials have territorial effect, meaning even the offenses were allegedly committed abroad, these can be charged in the Philippines.
We don’t see anything wrong. Presidential Spokesman Atty. Edwin Lacierda (above)
Now, if the Palace through lawyer Atty. Edwin Lacierda has the gall to defend Naguiat and describing what he did as mere”customary or a practice”, they might as well consider as normal the “gift-giving” that is happening at our government offices like the Bureau of Customs (Hi Mr. Elevado!) and even the National Bureau of Investigation (Hi Atty. Sison!).
The problem with Atty. Lacierda is he even twisted the law by saying that bribe receiving by Naguiat is even “BENEFICIAL TO THE GOVERNMENT!” DIOOSSKOOOPOOOO!!!
I thought that this is the very evil that President Benigno C. Aquino III wants to eradicated with his campaign slogan “Matuwin na Daan” or “Straight Road.”
Broken Vow? PAGCOR Chairman Naguiat is seen as one of the most trusted men of President Aquino.
“MATUWID NA DAAN BA ANG TINATAHAK NI NAGUIAT, MR. PRESIDENT?” (Is this the straight road you are talking about, Mr. President?)
Now, if Pnoy is fast on his guns to sack NBI Chief Magtanggol Gatdula when he was implicated in the shenanigans of his men, why will he not do the same against Naguiat who based on the Inquirer reporthas accepted dinners, Chanel bags and suites from gambling lord Kazuo Okada at Wynn Macau (is that all Mr. Okada?, how about the “splendid” massage services that Macau is known for?).
One of Macau’s traditional offer of hospitality: Free “Massage.”
Shame on you Mr. President if you let this bad example (and bad egg like Naguiat) slip through your fingers. In that occassion, you will be worse than your father and mother’s version of Renato Corona, President Ferdinand Marcos – who actually crafted this law against bribery and was strict against gift receiving during his time (at least on paper!).