By Kris M. Crismundo

MANILA, Aug. 19 (PNA) — After Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) rejected the offer of Roberto V. Ongpin to donate 49 percent of his stake in PhilWeb Corp., the magnate said he will now donate his shares for building drug rehabilitation centers nationwide.

Last Wednesday, Aug. 17, Ongpin offered to PAGCOR majority of his 53.76 stake or about 771 million shares worth around PHP20 billion in PhilWeb, with the objective to save the jobs and livelihood of some 6,000 people working for the company.

But the government-owned and controlled corporation rejected Ongpin’s donation and stated that “the issue is not RVO (Roberto V. Ongpin) or PhilWeb per se. It is the President’s and his government’s opposition to on-line and on-site electronic gaming because of the social ills and decay they foist on our communities as they cater to the more economically vulnerable portion of our population”.

“In rejecting my offer to donate 49 percent of my PhilWeb’s shares to PAGCOR… I, of course, have no choice but to accept this decision by PAGCOR,” Ongpin said in a letter to PAGCOR Friday.

“I hereby amend my donation to be used exclusively for the establishment of a nationwide network of drug rehabilitation centers,” he noted.

He mentioned that PhilWeb had identified a 2.1-hectare of land near Atimonan, Quezon province that is completely fenced, facing Pacific Ocean and near a virgin forest which makes it conducive for a drug rehab center.

The facility is eyed to be a model drug rehabilitation center which can be used as prototype for future construction of the same establishment to be built by the government and the private sector.

The company has also identified medical toxicologists and other drug rehabilitation specialists who will man the center, Ongpin added.

“PhilWeb had actually appropriated PHP100 million per year (equivalent to about 10 percent of its profit) plus PHP2.0 million to PHP3.0 million per month to maintain and sustain this center,” the tycoon bared.

He, however said that “Obviously, this project can no longer be undertaken by PhilWeb at this point.”

The tycoon also listed ways to implement the amended donation:

(1) PAGCOR could accept the donation and after an appropriate period when the true values of PhilWeb have been restored, auction it off;

(2) A drug rehabilitation agency could be created to which the donation could be funnelled. It should be managed by both the government and the private sector to ensure the effective use of the donated funds;

(3) A combination of both above where the donation is initially channelled to PAGCOR with the specific objective of utilizing funds for the purpose of drug rehabilitation as soon as an effective mechanism for the purpose has been established.

“I am a firm believer in the President’s drive against the drug menace… While one can agree that gambling is undesirable, nothing could be more pernicious that the drug menace which destroys the very fabric of our youth and our society, and which admirably, the President has chosen as his first priority,” Ongpin said.

To recall, President Rodrigo Duterte said early this month that he will “destroy the oligarchs that are embedded in government” and cited PhilWeb’s Ongpin as one of them.

Ongpin resigned as chairman and director of the company the day after the President’s statement.

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