PCIJ Investigation

Arroyo Allies Linked to ‘Garci’ Behind Mystery Firm in Pagcor ‘Tourism City’
by Malou Mangahas and Tita C. Valderama

APPARENT haste marked the approval in February 2007 of the new charter
of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), the state
agency that enjoys monopoly over gambling and gaming operations in the
country.

Pagcor, today the government’s third largest revenue agency, has
unveiled its ambitious $20-billion “Tourism City” project, a gaming-
entertainment complex that would rise on reclaimed land on Manila Bay.

Pagcor has accepted proposals from four groups of investors, including
Bloombury Investments Ltd., a newly formed company with neither track
record nor proven financial capability to roll out its $1.14-billion
proposal.

Bloombury has, however, claimed a partnership with the former
Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd. (PBL, now Crown Ltd.), that is chaired
by Australia’s third richest man, James Douglas Packer.

The partnership was revealed a fortnight ago by Pagcor president
Rafael Francisco in an interview with The South China Morning Post.
Promptly, Crown issued a statement, denying that Packer or the firm
was in “advanced talks” with Bloombury on the Pagcor project.

In this two-part report, the Philippine Center for Investigative
Journalism (PCIJ) uncovers the mysterious and muddled ownership
interests behind Bloombury, and gaps in Pagcor’s decision to enroll it
as an investor in “Tourism City.”

At least two allies of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo have been
linked to Bloombury — businessman Jose ‘Pepito’ Ch. Alvarez, who is
listed as president of the firm; and Enrique K. Razon Jr., whose legal
counsel in the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI).
Silverio ‘Benny’ Tan, is listed as Bloombury corporate secretary.

The firm’s “managing director” is Donato C. Almeda, who has just a
peso investment in Bloombury, is the brother of Antonio Mariano
Almeda, chief of staff of Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo.

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