Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada’s control of Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment Inc. (TRLEI), operator of Okada Manila casino hotel, lasted only three months thanks to the combined forces of abogados from the University of the Philippines and Ateneo.
Babbler said Kazuo’s legal team, led by Florencio Herrera III of Herrera Teehankee & Cabrera Law Offices, proved no match to the UP-Ateneo legal tag team which was crucial in making the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) shift its support to the old TRLEI board.
Babbler said the old TRLEI board, led by president Byron Yip, changed its fortunes by beefing up its legal team led by Divina Law with the addition of Ocampo & Manalo Law Firm whose senior partner, Carlos Ocampo, has close ties to Pagcor and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Ocampo is a a member of UP’s Upsilon Sigma Phi, Batch ’85, just like TRLEI director James Gordon Lorenzana and the fraternity’s Illustrious Fellow, Justice Secretary Boying Remulla.
Remulla’s brother, Pagcor director Gilbert Remulla, is also a member of Upsilon.
Pagcor’s September 2 order withdrawing its support for the Kazuo board members elected on May 2 was based on the opinion of the DOJ.
Pagcor sought the opinion of the DOJ on the Okada board squabble just a few days after chairman Al Tengco and the rest of its board, and Remulla were sworn into office.
Pagcor’s issuance of a cease and desist order – which kicked out Tonyboy Cojuangco, Dindo Espeleta, Maximo Modesto Joel Flores, Tetsuya Yokota, and Hiroshi Kawamura but retained Kazuo as chairman – was a reversal of its stand under then chairman Andrea Domingo to recognize the Kazuo board and stay neutral.
Babbler said the TRLEI board also banked on its Ateneo connections in the Marcos administration to boost its bid to take back control of the casino-hotel.
According to the Babbler, Mitch Lazaro, daughter of the late TRLEI chairman Manuel “Lolong” Lazaro, is tight with First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos as they both come from the Ateneo.
Lazaro is also reportedly close to fellow Ateneo Law graduates Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos and Philip Nazareno, a long-time buddy of President Marcos.
Babbler pointed out that Kazuo launched his hostile takeover only after Lolong passed away on May 19. It was Lolong who took over Kazuo’s seat when the latter was ejected from the board due to a financial scandal.
Lolong was one of the most trusted men of Bongbong’s father, former President Ferdinand Marcos. Lolong served as Government Corporate Counsel from 1976 to 1986 and Presidential Adviser for Legal Affairs.
By the way, Bongbong’s father belonged to Upsilon while Mitch’s father was a graduate of Ateneo.