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Nayong officials face graft, plunder raps over contract

Malacañang is counting on the Ombudsman to investigate and prosecute Nayong Pilipino Foundation senior officials involved in the alleged irregular lease contract with a casino resort developer.

According to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, the sacked officials of the State-owned entity could face graft or plunder charges for approving the “flawed” and “grossly disadvantageous” lease agreement.

“Ngayon po inaasahan natin na meron ng bagong Ombudsman na kapag may ganitong desisyon po ang Presidente at alam na alam naman ng Ombudsman iyan, inaasahan po natin ang madaliang pag-imbestiga at pagsampa ng kaso laban sa kanila,” Roque said.

Roque said the concerned officials could face life imprisonment. “Panghabangbuhay po iyan, kasi iyan po ay graft ‘no at depende sa halaga, pupuwede pang maging plunder,” he said.

President Duterte fired all board and management officials of Nayong Pilipino Foundation over the “ridiculous” long-term lease contract with Landing Resorts Philippines Development Corp. for an integrated project at the Manila Bay entertainment district.

Duterte ordered a review of the lease contract, which he claimed was forged without public bidding and was disadvantageous to the government.

The President issued the directives amid his exasperation over the lingering corruption even during his administration, Roque said.

The dismissal of the NPF board and management officials coincided with the groundbreaking ceremony of the proposed $1.5-billion NayonLanding project, that will reported includes hotels, a casino, indoor theme parks, and restaurants.

Roque admitted that the President was angry like a “fire-breathing dragon” over Nayong Pilipino’s controversial lease agreement.

“Nire-review din yung kontrata kasi sabi nga ni Presidente flawed ‘yung kontrata. Dahil flawed, hindi dapat matuloy ang kontratang ‘yan,” Roque said.

Apart from the lack of public bidding and questionable lease terms, Roque said they also found out that the project proponent was not registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority or the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)