Politics

CoA authority to audit Pagcor has limits, says court

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PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

STATE AUDITORS’ power to review the books of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) is limited to the state company’s franchise tax remittances and the government’s share in its gross earnings, the Supreme Court ruled.

In a decision published on Sept. 24, the High Court reversed a Commission on Audit (CoA) ruling that disallowed Pagcor’s P2-million financial assistance to a homeowners’ association in Los Banos, Laguna in 2013.

The tribunal noted that under the CoA charter, “the funds of the corporation to be covered by the audit shall be limited to the 5% franchise tax and 50% of the gross earnings pertaining to the government as its share.”

“It is a cardinal rule in statutory construction that when the law is clear, there is no room for construction or interpretation,” the court said. “There is only room for application.”

In 2010, the Pleasant Village Homeowners’ Association sought financial assistance worth P2 million from Pagcor so it could build a flood control and drainage system. The company’s board approved the request, the funding for which was taken from its marketing expenses.

In 2017, state auditors said the Pagcor assistance did not cover a public property and did not serve a public purpose.

CoA also said the subject roads and streets build under the project, while for public use, remained private property.

The High Court did not pass upon the issue, saying the lawsuit only covered the fact that state auditors had “acted with grave abuse of discretion” in auditing Pagcor accounts beyond the law. — Bianca Angelica D. Anago

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