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Pagcor chief to Senate: Harry Roque legal counsel for raided Pogo hub

By: Charie Abarca - @inquirerdotnet - Inquirer.net | July 11,2024 - 03:00 AM

Pagcor chief to Senate: Harry Roque legal counsel for raided Pogo hub. Pagcor chief to Senate: Harry Roque legal counsel for raided Pogo hub. Former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO JOAN BONDOC

Former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO JOAN BONDOC

MANILA, Philippines — Alejandro Tengco, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) chief, said that former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque served as the legal counsel of the raided Philippine offshore gaming operator (Pogo) Lucky South 99.

Roque called his office in July 2023, asking if he could have an appointment with Pagcor, said Tengco, who was speaking on Wednesday before the Senate panel on women’s hearing on Pogos.

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“So noon pong ika dalawampu’t anim ng Hulyo 2023, nagkaroon ng pagkakataon na bumisita po sa aking tanggapan sa Pagcor – noon pong nasa Ermita pa kami — siya po ay nabigyan ng appointment at siya po ay dumating sa aking tanggapan,” said Tengco.

(In July 2023, he had the opportunity to visit our office in Pagcor – at that time, we were still located in Ermita – he was given an appointment, and he arrived at our office.)

Tengco said Roque was with Cassandra Lee Ong of Lucky South 99, adding that they were seeking to settle the license and unpaid arrears of the firm.

Prior to this revelation, Pagcor had already disclosed that a former “high-ranking” Cabinet official had been lobbying for the granting of licenses to illegal Pogos, which have been recently raided.

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But now, Tengco insisted that Roque “did not pressure” Pagcor to grant a license to Lucky South 99.

“Siya din lang po ay nakikiusap na kung maaari lang ay matulungan si Cassandra Ong. So hindi pa po siya nag f-follow up noon,” said Tengco.

(He only talked to me to help Cassandra Ong. He did not follow up.)

“Uulitin ko rin po. Hindi po naman niya ako pine-pressure. Kumbaga, bilang abogado siguro – bilang kliyente niya. Nagfa-facilitate lang siya at nakikiusap lang siya,” he added.

(I will repeat, he did not pressure me. Maybe he only served as a lawyer to his client. He only facilitated the conversation and asked us.)

Later into the hearing, Atty. Jessa Fernandez of Pagcor said Roque reached out to her office six times. One of these instances includes Roque asking which documents are still needed for the Pogo hub to be granted a license.

“Anim lang po, Ma’am. Bale tatlong nasagot — dalawang hindi nasagot, And then noong May 14, 2024 po ininform ko po siya [sa] decision namin na ideny ang application ng Lucky South dahil nakakita na kami ng ebidensya — ng rason para hindi na po talaga sila bigyan ng lisensya at that time,” said Fernandez.

(Just six times. Three that we picked up and two that we missed, and then last May 14, 2024, I informed him of our decision to deny Lucky South 99’s application because we saw a valid reason not to grant them license at that time.)

In a statement on Wednesday, Roque said he has never been a legal counsel to any illegal Pogo nor has he been counsel to Lucky South 99.

“I also did not participate in preparing Lucky South’s Organizational Chart, which identified me as their legal counsel,” said Roque.

“As clearly stated by Pagcor Chairman Alejandro Tengco in today’s Senate hearing, I requested a rescheduling of arrears payment of a lessee and principal of my client Whirlwind Corporation. My client is a service provider to Lucky South, then a holder of a valid license from Pagcor,” he added.

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TAGS: former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Pagcor Chief Alejandro Tengco, POGO

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