BIZ BUZZ: Wooing Okada whistleblowers | Inquirer Business

BIZ BUZZ: Wooing Okada whistleblowers

/ 02:08 AM August 08, 2022

It’s been relatively quiet on the Okada Manila front for the past couple of weeks, but no one should be fooled into thinking that the issue has been put to rest.

In fact, a full-page ad published in the Inquirer last Saturday says just the opposite.

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In it, Tiger Resorts Asia Limited or “TRAL”—which says it owns 99.99 percent of Okada Manila—“has received credible reports that the self-appointed board” of the controversial casino resort hotel led by Kazuo Okada “is again attempting to issue themselves improper payments.”

“So far, these untoward attempts have been thwarted by honest and hardworking Okada Manila employees who are unwilling to facilitate these improper financial transactions,” the firm said.

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“As a result, the self-appointed board has allegedly demoted and even improperly terminated employees who were not willing to follow their orders, refused to betray their conscience, and protected themselves from criminal liabilities—despite knowing that it may result in unjust punishment such as possible demotions or loss of employment,” it added.

TRAL also said it received information that an individual, who stopped working at Okada Manila earlier this year, “was dubiously appointed by the self-appointed board as a senior manager in the accounting and finance departments responsible for ensuring the legitimate use of all funds of Okada Manila.”

“In addition, this individual has been assigned to oversee the cage, where he is now in charge of all the cash of Okada Manila,” the firm said, referring to the cage-like structure in casinos where cold hard cash is stored.

As such, it announced that it will offer a reward to any Okada Manila employee that can provide information that leads to the recovery of funds that were allegedly improperly paid to third parties by the management of the “self-appointed board.”

TRAL added that the reward will be equivalent to 5 percent of the amount that will be recovered—rather generous as rewards go, especially when the firm believes that these allegedly illegal transactions include a P2-billion payment authorized by the new board to a construction firm.

“Should this amount be recovered, the informant stands to receive P100 million,” the ad pointed out, while providing an email address where confidential tip-offs could be sent.

Will it work? Will this tip the balance in favor of the deposed board? Abangan!

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—Daxim L. Lucas

PAL eyes flights to Borongan

If all goes well, national flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) may soon include Borongan City in Eastern Samar to its list of landing points, thus expanding its presence in the island of Samar.

At present, PAL’s air link to Samar, the country’s third largest island, is via services to Manila-Calbayog in Samar and Manila-Catarman in Northern Samar.

Borongan, the capital city of Eastern Samar, may yet be added to the network after PAL management recently conducted an ocular inspection of the airport terminal, runway and other facilities at Borongan Airport.

More studies of the airport’s operability and market feasibility will have to be done before arriving at the final decision to mount flights to Borongan. But the province is eagerly anticipating a positive decision as direct flights between Manila and Borongan will go a long way in unleashing the province’s economic prospects and potential as a tourism draw, especially among those who want to commune with Mother Nature in a not-so-crowded place.

“The whole community of Borongan is excited to welcome the ‘Heart of the Filipino,’” said Borongan Mayor Jose Ivan Dayan Agda in a statement.

Last June 22, the Borongan City Airport got the go-ahead from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to accept flights and start seeking commercial airline partners. The airport has a 1.3-kilometer runway and can accommodate turboprop aircraft such as the ATR72, Bombardier Q300 and Q400.

There used to be flights to Borongan in 2019 mounted by Leading Edge Air Services Corp., but Eastern Samar Gov. Ben Evardone said these were discontinued because of lack of passengers. He had also initiated the mounting of direct flights from Manila to Borongan during his first term as governor. These were even subsidized at some point but even then, there was not enough demand to support the flight operations.

But hopes are high that with the city and provincial governments’ push for increased tourism and economic activity in the province, there will be enough support this time to warrant regular direct flights from Manila to Borongan, and thus save travelers the usual five hours that it takes to go to Easter Samar’s center from the nearest airport in Tacloban, Leyte.

—Tina Arceo-Dumlao INQ

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