Aquino: Like Corona, Pagcor chief presumed innocent ’til proven guilty

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04:28 AM February 25th, 2012

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By: Norman Bordadora, February 25th, 2012 04:28 AM

TRECE MARTIRES CITY—Like impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) chair Cristino Naguiat Jr. is presumed innocent until proven guilty of wrongdoing, President Benigno Aquino III said on Friday.

But he said Naguiat should expect sanctions if it was proven he did something wrong.

“Everybody who was proven to have done something they should not have or neglected to do what they should has been meted the appropriate sanctions,” Mr. Aquino told reporters when asked if Naguiat would face sanctions if impropriety was proven.

Naguiat is a close friend of the President’s and a classmate at Ateneo de Manila University.

“Let’s have the allegations, let him answer it and we will weigh the allegations versus his defense of his actions or lack of actions,” Mr.  Aquino said.

“There is a presumption under our laws, it applies to Chief Justice Corona. There is a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. So in this particular instance (of Naguiat), I think we should afford him also the benefit of hearing him out before we make any judgment,” he added.

Mr. Aquino said he would ask Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. to investigate the allegations leveled against Naguiat by US casino operator Steve Wynn.

“There is a formal process where he will be asked to explain. First, let’s see the specific accusations and we will ask him to explain himself with regard to the specific accusation and the committee will determine whether or not there is an issue,” Mr. Aquino said.

Edwin Lacierda, the President’s spokesperson, has said it is industry practice for casino operators to provide free accommodations for each other when one comes to another’s resort for business.

Return of bag in footnote

Mr. Aquino said those making the allegations against Naguiat seemed to think that the Philippine side wouldn’t be able to seek redress should it be proven that their allegations were wrong.

He said there could be malice in the report that Naguiat accepted from his hosts an expensive designer bag for his wife during their visit in Macau and that the report was accompanied by a footnote in fine print saying the bag was actually returned.

“The fact that it was given was highlighted but it wasn’t mentioned that they immediately gave it back. There could be malice there,” Mr. Aquino said. “The least that chair Naguiat should be able to expect is that he gets a fair hearing.”

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