OGCC chief shrugs off corruption allegations

MANILA Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) chief Rudolf Philip Jurado on Thursday slammed the corruption allegations hurled against him by certain lawyers of the agency.

They alleged that I am corrupt while simultaneously brushing aside the fact that they are the ones being investigated and audited by the COA (Commission on Audit), Jurado said in a statement in response to allegations made by OGCC lawyers that he took stances that were disadvantageous to the interest of the government, particularly, allowing the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone (Apeco) to grant permits outside its controlled areas even though only the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) is allowed to do so.

He also denied approving a 75-year casino permit.

I really do not know what the OGCC lawyers were referring to when they alleged a supposed corruption in approving a 75-year casino permit, because the OGCC has no power to approve casino permits or grant gambling franchises, Jurado said.

I hope that the OGCC lawyers could show this 75-year casino permit I supposedly issued, he dared.

The Government Corporate Counsel explained that Apeco, a government-owned and -controlled corporation (GOCC), had requested an opinion if it is allowed under its amended charter to operate outside the Aurora Economic Zone and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).

Citing the Apeco Charter (Republic Act No. 9490) as amended by RA 10083, Jurado said that it is clear that Apeco is allowed to operate outside the Aurora Economic Zone as long as it is within a PEZA-controlled area.

He recounted that Assistant Government Corporate Counsel Ma. Dolores Rigonan made the draft opinion, which cited this provision and was forwarded to Deputy Government Corporate Counsel Elpidio Vega who reversed it.

Jurado said he agreed with the first opinion after reviewing the Charter when the revised draft opinion passed his office.

He said he believes his conflict with OGCC lawyers stemmed from the Commission on Audit's issuance of an Audit Observation Memorandum dated March 12, which flagged that OGCC lawyers have been receiving, among others, secret allowances directly from some GOCCs.

Because of the COA observation, Jurado said he issued an order dated March 16, which instructed OGCC lawyers to comply with the audit body by, among others, refraining from collecting these so-called allowances/honoraria directly from GOCCs and to instead remit the same to the office (i.e., OGCC) through its Accounting Section for monitoring purposes and inform their client GOCCs to pay such allowances and honoraria to the office (i.e., OGCC and not directly to the OGCC lawyer concerned).

After the OGCC lawyers refused to follow his orders, Jurado said he was constrained to serve, inform and direct the clients GOCCs to cease/refrain from further giving these allowances secretly to GOCC lawyers.

Now, these OGCC lawyers are trying to malign my reputation by alleging that I am supposedly incompetent and corrupt, he lamented.

The OGCC is an attached agency of the Department of Justice. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency