Solon wants PAGCOR’s authority to license casinos revoked

By on May 26, 2014


MANILA — A House leader is seeking the amendment of Republic Act 9487, otherwise known as the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation Charter, as the law delegated more powers to Pagcor, allowing it to encroach on congressional mandate such as granting license to casino and gaming club operators and unilaterally entering into contracts with persons, firms or corporations.

House Deputy Speaker and Isabela (4th District) Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao said Pagcor’s original mandate was to operate and maintain casinos, but Republic Act 9487, which extended Pagcor’s franchise for another 25 years, delegated more powers to the state-owned gaming firm which encroached on congressional mandate as provided by the Constitution.

“Clearly, with the given additional authority, Pagcor has encroached on congressional mandate. My bill seeks to rectify the situation and proposes to revoke the authority of Pagcor to license casino and gaming club operators. In addition, it seeks to give back to Congress its supervisory oversight of Pagcor by mandating that the contracts entered by Pagcor, in whatever form, will be subject to the approval of Congress,” said Aggabao.

He said RA 9487, approved in 2007, granted Pagcor the authority to operate and license gambling casinos, gaming clubs, and other similar recreation or amusement places and gaming pools.

“Consequently, the law delegated more powers to Pagcor compared to its original mandate — that of operating and maintaining casinos,” said Aggabao.

Since then, the lawmaker said Pagcor has issued a number of licenses to various companies to operate casinos and gaming clubs in different parts of the country, in a manner lacking transparency.

“The procedures of licensing being implemented by the agency were not transparent including the laying down of the terms of reference (TOR) for each license in the past administration,” he said.

Because of the grant of delegated authority in licensing, the mandate of Congress in terms of franchising was relatively diminished, and that a consequence also is the extension of Pagcor’s franchise to its affiliates and licensees, according to Aggabao.

In House Bill 4311, Aggabao sought the amendment of Section 3 (h) of RA 9487 pertaining to Pagcor’s corporate powers. The amendment provides that among the powers and functions of Pagcor shall be “To enter into, make, conclude, perform, and carry out contracts of every kind and nature and for any lawful purpose which are necessary, appropriate, proper or incidental to any business or purpose of the Pagcor, including but not limited to investment agreements, whether as principal or as an agent, manpower supply agreements, or any other similar agreements or agreements with any person, firm, association or corporation with the prior approval of Congress.”

The law presently does not require prior approval of Congress for such contracts entered into by Pagcor.

The bill also seeks the amendment of Section 10 of RA 9487 pertaining to the nature and term of franchise of Pagcor. The amendment provides “Subject to the terms and conditions established in this Decree, the Corporation is hereby granted from the expiration of its original term on July 11, 2008, another period of 25 years, renewable for another 25 years, the rights, privileges and authority to operate and maintain gambling casinos, gaming clubs and other similar recreation or amusement places, gaming pools, i.e. basketball, football, bingo, etc. except jai-alai, whether on land or sea, within the territorial jurisdiction of the Republic of the Philippines: Provided, That the corporation shall obtain the consent of the local government unit that has territorial jurisdiction over the area chosen as the site for any of its operations.”

The law presently provides Pagcor has the rights, privileges and authority “to operate and license” these gaming casinos, gaming clubs and other similar amusement places.

The proposed amendment further provides that “The authority and power of the PAGCOR to regulate the games of chance, games of cards and games of numbers shall not extend to: (1) games of chance authorized, licensed and regulated or to be authorized, licensed and regulated by, in, and under existing franchises or other regulatory bodies; (2) games of chance, games of cards and games of numbers authorized, licensed, regulated by, in, and under special laws such as Republic Act No. 7922; and (3) games of chance, games of cards and games of numbers like cockfighting, authorized, licensed and regulated by local government units. The conduct of such games of chance, games of cards and games of numbers covered by existing franchises, regulatory bodies or special laws, to the extent of the jurisdiction and powers granted under such franchises and special laws, shall be outside the licensing authority and regulatory powers of the PAGCOR.”

The law presently provides Pagcor’s authority and power to “authorize, license and regulate” these games shall not be extended to the abovementioned games.