Selling Pagcor is definitely the biggest mistake this Administration could possibly commit. Why sell the hen that lays the golden eggs? Pagcor, according to its website is the second biggest revenue contributor. For 2009 alone, it recorded a total annual income of PHP29.78 Billion, which is almost 1% higher than its 2008’s PHP 29.61 Billion, inspite of the financial crisis accross the globe, during that period. The yearly increase in its revenue signals that Pagcor is a valuable asset that Philippines should keep. Selling it will device the future of the country, economically. What is the use of having PHP450B now, and lost PHP30B or more of annual income forever. Its like giving yourself a 15 year life term before you die.
After President Aquino announced in his first State of the Nation Address, his strategy of public-private partnerships and selling or leasing government assets to raise money for the government grappling with a deficit likely to hit P350 billion this year, many rich getting richer business personas in the country have started rolling their eyes on which one from among the country’s potential businesses will they venture into.
Last month, Mr. Aquino announced that he was open to privatizing Pagcor after assessing its assets and existing contracts. Yesterday, Petron Chairman and San Miguel Corporation vice chair Ramon S. Ang, who said he’s acting on his own, proposed the privatization of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and promised to transform the country into a tiger economy + raise as much as $10 billion for the Philippines. Ang said, he himself plans to make a bid to acquire Pagcor, along with his Malaysian friends.
Im afraid, what the future of this country will become if we allow private business groups to handle our 33-year-old state-run gaming corporation? At present, Pagcor has 13 casinos in 10 major cities in the country with 28 satellite casinos, 24 VIP Clubs and four Pagcor Arcades.
While there are still occassional concerns from some sectors on the issue of gambling as immoral and causing people’s lives miserable as it erodes the moral fiber of our society, the privatization will surely pave the way towards a more diversed and systematic way of placing bets which could deal a whole cost of fortunes for the bettor.
I believe more than the financial benefits that we can get from the sale of Pagcor, this government has to stand firm in its commitment to uphold its moral obligation to provide responsible gaming among Filipinos in as much as gaming is concerned. This can only be obtained by a state-run Pagcor and nothing else.
What pagcor needs to do now, is to resystemize its operation and eradicate all sorts of vulnerability to abuse and corruption, and now is the perfect time to do it. It should carefully streamline the outflows of funds. I dont think, the granting of financial and fuel subsidies amounting to millions of pesos to Manila police and barangay officials are necessary for pagcor. Also, paying for the water and electric bills of some barangay halls and health centers in Manila and other places hosting its gaming facilities. Too, the streetlights along the controversial Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard in Pasay City that the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority should shoulder. Last month, there was an attempt by a former Pagcor employee to cash a check worth over P21 million reportedly meant to pay for the hamburgers of policemen deployed in mass actions in Metro Manila.Last week, reports said, nearly 49 metric tons of rice donated to Pagcor were used for the candidacies of the sons of its former chair, Efraim Genuino who in turn denied the allegations saying it was donated to him personally by a Japanese friend who happens to be an investor in the proposed Pagcor Entertainment City. Pagcor paid for the duties and shipping costs of these rice. These are the things that pagcor should look into. It should introduce new reforms in order to save money, thus increase revenue.
In closing, selling Pagcor is no less than tantamount to placing the country’s economic future before vultures. And these vultures are just agents of Malaysian Tigers, waiting to attack.