OGCC chief respects PRRD decision to sack him

MANILA — Outgoing Government Corporate Counsel Rudolf Philip Jurado said Tuesday he accepts President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s decision to fire him for allegedly favoring a gambling operator.

“I accept and respect our President’s decision. As an appointee who serves under his pleasure, I am honored to have been given a chance to serve under his administration,” he said in a statement.

Jurado has been accused of issuing a legal opinion that led to the approval of a 75-year permit for a casino operator inside the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone (Apeco), an allegation he has earlier denied.

“I really do not know what the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) lawyers were referring to when they alleged a supposed corruption in approving a 75-year casino permit, because the OGCC has no power to approve casino permits or grant gambling franchises,” Jurado said.

“I hope that the OGCC lawyers could show this 75-year casino permit I supposedly issued,” he said.

The Government Corporate Counsel explained that Apeco, a government-owned and -controlled corporation (GOCC), had requested an opinion if it is allowed under its amended charter to operate outside the Aurora Economic Zone and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).

Citing the Apeco Charter (Republic Act No. 9490), as amended by RA 10083, Jurado said “it is clear that Apeco is allowed to operate outside the Aurora Economic Zone as long as it is within a PEZA-controlled area.”

He recounted that Assistant Government Corporate Counsel Ma. Dolores Rigonan made the draft opinion, which cited this provision and was forwarded to Deputy Government Corporate Counsel Elpidio Vega who reversed it.

Jurado said he agreed with the first opinion after reviewing the Charter when the revised draft opinion passed his office.

He said he believes his conflict with OGCC lawyers stemmed from the Commission on Audit’s issuance of an Audit Observation Memorandum dated March 12, which flagged that OGCC lawyers have been receiving, among others, “secret allowances” directly from some GOCCs.

On Monday, Duterte said the country has a long list of good lawyers who can replace Jurado.

“I don’t need you and maybe you do not need me. You know APEC has granted a franchise, Freeport and everything, and there’s always that accompanying provision about gambling,” the Chief Executive added.

“I have been trying to be patient with everybody. But there are always that opportunity to interpret a law or insist in your stupid proposition until the problem gets out of hand,” Duterte said. PNA-northboundasia.com