By Ben Rosario
Fourteen local government units have been scrimping on some P908.7 million that have been granted by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) for hosting gaming venues in their localities, the Commission on Audit has revealed.
In its 2018 annual audit report for Pagcor, COA listed several adverse audit findings that included the lack of public bidding in the award of some P95.021 million food and beverage contracts and noted lapses in the grant of donations.
COA said Pagcor failed to closely monitor the release of the share of local government units (LGUs) as host city/provinces of casinos set up by the state-run gaming firm in their localities.
Auditors noted that out of the total P1.203 billion released to LGUs, only about 25 percent was utilized, leaving some P908.72 million unutilized.
Further, CoA said “ineligible expenses” were also charged from the fund, thus, defeating the purpose of the grant as indicated in the Guidelines of Handling and Disposition of Host city Share.
The state audit body explained that PAGCOR distributes part of its income to host cities to allow them to finance self-sustainable economic livelihood projects, activities connected with the delivery of basic health services and projects aimed at preventing the spread of diseases or epidemics.
In 2018, Pagcor released a total amount of P447.520 million to 14 local government units.
The amount was part of the balance P1.203 billion for the year, of which only P294.365 million was utilized. The remainder remained idle,
COA records of utilization of the host city share indicated the city of Manila, Cebu and Pasay having the highest unutilized fund, with P393.72 million; P159.74 million and P105.71 million, respectively.
State auditors enjoined Pagcor to closely monitor the expenses undertaken by LGU beneficiaries to help guarantee that the income shares were used for the intended purposes and in accordance with the guidelines set for the disposition of funds.
“Ten service contracts aggregating P95.021 million entered into by PAGCOR with various suppliers for the procurement of Food and Beverage requirements for casino customers and guests, including PAGCOR’s events and activities were procured through Direct Contracting without satisfying the conditions provided under Section 50 of Republic Act No. 9184,” COA said.
Auditors called for the review of all 10 service contracts that did not pass through public bidding,
In its audit examination of donations granted by PAGCOR, COA noted that 95 deed donations were not prepared.
Meanwhile, COA warned that P21.636 million spent for contracting consulting service for the design of the proposed site development of PAGCOR MIA complex “would result in wastage of government funds and considered unnecessary expenditure” if the project is abandoned
“Moreover, PAGCOR will incur rent expenses in the net ten years of approximately P960.074 million when the construction fo the proposed PaGCOR MIA Complex would be delayed/stalled,” auditors said.
Further auditors noted that the Pagcor management failed to collect the balances of the housing and car loans granted PAGCOR officers and employees.
According to audit examiners, unamortized car loans reached P7.115 million, while housing loans have totaled P4.62 million in the past five years ending December 2018.
COA blamed the management for the lapse, noting that “there were no proofs of the efforts exerted to collect” payments for the loan.