Fate of Landing casino deal in the hands of DOJ-OGCC, new Nayong Pilipino board
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has ordered the Office of the Corporate Government Counsel (OGCC) to review the lease contract between Nayong Pilipino Foundation, Inc. (NPFI) and Landing Resorts Philippines Development Corp. (LRPDC)
Guevarra’s order came after President Rodrigo Duterte instructed the Department of Justice (DOJ) to review the contract, which the President has described as “flawed”.
“I have instructed the office of the government counsel, as statutory counsel of all Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations (GOCC), under the direct supervision of the Department of Justice, to immediately review all the relevant facts and re-evaluate and examine all contracts, agreements, and other documents pertaining to this questioned transaction, including the legal opinions previously rendered by the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel to its client, Nayong Pilipino Foundation, Inc., and to submit a report with recommendations on the proper course of action for the government as soon as possible,” Guevarra said in a text message sent to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) late Wednesday.
“The removal of all the members of the Nayong Pilipino Board, by itself alone, does not affect the implementation of the project. Two developments may possibly have an impact, though: the current re-evaluation of the subject transaction by the DOJ/OGCC, and the appointment of a new board of the Nayong Pilipino Foundation Inc.,” Guevarra said.
Guevarra also ordered OGCC Officer-in-Charge Atty. Elpidio Vega to supervise the review of the Nayong Pilipino lease transaction and will submit the OGCC report and recommendation to the DOJ.
“My legal staff will also do our own evaluation,” he added.
On Tuesday, Duterte fired all members of the NPFI board and management due to a lease deal that the Chief Executive called “gravely disadvantageous” to the government.
Under the lease contract, the LRPDC, a subsidiary of Hong Kong’s Landing International Development Ltd., will reportedly develop a $1.5-billion casino-resort in the NPFI property at Entertainment City in Parañaque City.
The groundbreaking ceremony was held on the same day that Duterte sacked the entire NPFI board and management.
On May 2, Maria Fema Duterte, a distant relative of the President, filed criminal and administrative complaints against her fellow NPFI board members, including chairperson Patricia Yvette Ocampo, before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with Nayong Pilipino’s lease contract with LRPDC.
Maria Fema alleged that the amount of the contract was disadvantageous to the government which, she said, stands to lose P25 billion in 50 years.
She and the respondents are all presidential appointees.
The NPFI is a GOCC attached to the Department of Tourism. (PNA)