ANDREA Domingo was one of the earliest Digong appointees, not because she was standing first in line but because she was happy being a retired, contented 65-year-old who didn’t need another job in government.
But when an emissary was sent to the former commissioner of immigration who had worked hard for the DU30 campaign, she was asked to choose from any of four jobs on the plate: Asian Development Bank, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Pagcor, Bureau of Immigration. It was the BI offer that scared her. If she didn’t accept any of the other three, her fear was that BI would be forced on her, and a “postgraduate” course back where she had come from would be as bad as a hole in the head.
Now she’s chairman of Pagcor, the third biggest revenue generator of government and owner of 46 casinos plus several others whose relationships with Pagcor are permutations of one kind or another. For now, over lunch with editors and writers, many of them familiar faces, she was glad to let down her hair and exchange some of the news (and rumors) of the day.
The news for Bobby Ongpin is that if he wants to get back his PhilWeb e-games, “he’ll have to start from scratch and apply for a license again, simply because the contract has expired.” According to the chairman, only 199 or a third of e-game outlets comply with the rules on tax payments and locations (far from schools and churches). As for the third leisure and casino resort to rise on E-City, the Okada property of 44 ha, ten times the size of City of Dreams, “will pull in the Japanese market,” or so the Japanese investor has vowed to the chairman, who described him as a simple man who wears short-sleeved shirts, not tycoon-style at all.
Pagcor’s gross earnings in 2015 came up to P47 billion, rose to P49B as of August 2016, and are expected to hit P50B next year. Dazzling figures, yet President Duterte’s order is for the corporation to let go of the moneymaking machine and stick to being a regulator. A change that the chairman will prepare for, possibly after Okada-san’s resort hosts the 2017 Miss Universe pageant. (Jullie Y. Daza)