Defiant NPF execs take Palace flak

Ousted Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF) officials are again in hot water with the Palace for their “open defiance” of President Rodrido Duterte and defending their alleged questionable deal with a Hong Kong-based casino developer.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the embattled former NPF board members showed blatant disobedience to the Chief Executive’s standing order of no more new casinos to operate in the country by giving the green light to the Nayon Landing project — a $1.5-billion integrated casino and theme park development.

President Duterte sacked all the members of the board of NPF last 7 August on grounds that the project was disadvantageous to the government as it stands to lose at least P517 million a year in land rental.

“Let us respect the decision of the President. PRRD’s stance remains, he does not want a new casino,” Roque told Palace reporters.

“What the NPF trustees and officials did was actually a violation of the President’s order that there will be no more new casinos allowed to operate in this country,” he added.

Follow the President

The NPF board locked a deal with Hong kong-based Landing International for the resort project supposed to be built by local unit Landing Resorts Philippines Development Corp. in Parañaque City.

Roque stressed that the President found the deal to be flawed and “grossly disadvantageous” to the government and that the NPF officials should have just followed Mr. Duterte’s orders. Those serving in the government, Roque reminded, serve at the pleasure of the President.
“At the end of the day, all public officials, including those who are in government-owned and-controlled corporations, serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority, who happens to be the President,” he said.

Former NPF chair Patricia Ocampo defended her group’s decision through an open letter published in major newspapers.

On Landing’s defense

In the paid ad, Ocampo said the NPF’s project with Landing was aboveboard and “absolutely legal” and that they were unfairly accused of graft and corruption.

“If the Nayong Pilipino Foundation trustees and officials believe that they were unfairly accused of graft and corruption, then they should focus their energies on any investigation of the charges,” Roque replied.

“Since the President has already spoken, no NPF trustee or official can insist that he or she should continue holding office,” Roque added.

It was earlier this month when the President fired all members of the NPF board over perceived irregularities regarding the Nayon Landing project.

Escudero wants probe

Sen. Francis Escudero plans to seek an inquiry into the alleged irregularities of the NPF officials.

In Senate Resolution 858, Escudero particularly asked the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to investigate the NFP’s 50-year lease agreement with Landing Resorts Philippines.

“Corruption, power play, incompetence and dishonesty, especially if government is involved, adversely affect not only this particular project but also other high-stakes development projects of the government,” Escudero, who chairs the Senate Committee on Banks and Financial Institutions, said.

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