Philippine President Appoints Tengco to Lead PAGCOR

Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos has appointed close friend Alejandro Tengco (l.) to replace Andrea Domingo as head of the country’s gaming regulator. Tengco is a building contractor and the former vice mayor of Malolos, Bulacan.

Philippine President Appoints Tengco to Lead PAGCOR

The Philippines’ new president, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, has appointed Alejandro Tengco to head up the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), the country’s state-controlled gaming regulator.

Local media has described Tengo as Marcos’ “bosom buddy” and even his “BFF.”

Tengco “is a longtime friend of Bongbong,” said one source. “Al never deserted (Marcos) even during the lowest point in his life and is also close to the Marcos family.”

Tengco is the son of the late Abogado Jose “Pete” Tengco, who once served as governor of the Development Bank of the Philippines. He owns Nationstar Development Corp., a building contractor, and is the former vice mayor of Malolos, capital of the province of Bulacan.

Tengco also was a special assistant to billionaire Tonyboy Cojuangco when the latter ran his family’s business, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (Cojuangco is now part of the Kazuo Okada-backed group that recently assumed control of Okada Manila, an integrated resort in Entertainment City.)

Marcos reportedly tapped Tengco for the top job because he wanted an intimate in charge of PAGCOR, a “cash cow” that helped keep government services afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic. As reported by Asia Gaming Brief, PAGCOR is one of the country’s biggest sources of revenues, after the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs.

Even during the worst of the pandemic, in 2020 and 2021, the regulator posted net income of PHP1.55 billion ($27.6 million) and PHP203.57 million (US$3.6 billion) respectively. Overall, from 2016 to 2021 the agency generated PHP373.49 billion (US$6.7 billion) in revenues. Of that, 64 percent went to the government through mandated contributions and corporate social responsibility programs.

In the first half of this year, PAGCOR’s net income showed appreciable gains, reaching PHP2.15 billion compared to the PHP79.07 million profit recorded in the same period in 2021.

Tengco succeeds Andrea Domingo, who was appointed by former president Rodrigo Duterte in 2016 and served throughout his administration. The appointment came more than a month after Malacañang denied rumors that lawyer George Erwin Garcia would run the agency.

In other appointments, Marcos named lawyer Juanito L. Sañosa Jr. as PAGCOR president and chief operating officer, replacing Alfredo Lim, and also chose former Cavite Rep. Gilbert Remulla, engineer Francis Democrito Concordia and Jose Maria Ortega as members of the board of directors. “And so the new chapter begins,” Remulla said in a tweet after taking the oath of office.

In a recent interview with AGB, Domingo reflected on her time at PAGCOR. She said she is most proud of “upholding the integrity of the gaming industry; ensuring that PAGCOR’s role as the country’s gaming regulator was enforced and strengthened; and eventually contributing substantially to the government’s nation-building efforts through regulated gaming.”

Asked what advice she would offer to Tengco, Domingo added, “As the economic pinch of the pandemic is still being felt in all industries worldwide, it is a must for my successor to stay focused, keep abreast with the latest gaming trends, be innovative and transparent. The next PAGCOR chief should also continue providing for the citizens’ needs and must be concerned about the welfare of the employees. It is always a good practice to follow the law and level the playing field for all.”

PAGCOR was first established after a 1977 decree issued by the current president’s father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.