Monday, July 19, 2010

Odette Ong and PAGCOR lobbying

Viel Aquino Dee is said to be the closest friend of Odette Ong, now at the center of a brewing controversy. Ong is actually serving as "Social Secretary", along with Susan Reyes of the Aquino III administration. Susan Reyes, if you don't know, is the wife of the late ABS-CBN founder Geny Lopez.

Ong has been in Malacanang since Day 1. She served as finance co-head with Viel during the inauguration. She's also dear friends of Mercy Tuason, Elvira Ong Chan and Reggie Coseteng. She seems to be a very nice lady. And it is totally unthinkable that she is now being tagged as the "emissary" of big-time smuggler Lucio Lao Co for 200 million pesos.

By the way, several interest groups are pressuring Malacanang to privatize Pagcor. Why? Two reasons: one, these interest groups want a big slice of the New Bagong Nayong Pilipino project, an integrated resort project of Pagcor. This billion dollar project aims to project a new image of the Philippines as the next Macau.

One of the groups is directly linked with Hongkong casino Steve Wynn and another group representing a "dark figure" in the person of Stanley Ho. Ho, if you remember, was embroiled in a controversy during the Estrada administration.

The project is laudable, because really, the Philippines needs a facelift. This will boost the tourism in the country. The potential revenues are expected to reach more than 1 billion dollars.

Several PR groups have been hired to pressure Malacanang to make the jump of transforming PAGCOR from a regulatory body into a private company. If privatized (something to the tune of 320 million php), this will completely allow a private body to monopolize the gambling business in the country.

Pagcor was established as the body responsible for regulating casinos and gambling in the country. If privatized, government will lose the regulating power and this will spawn more casinos, more gambling joints and more problems for the government.