Andrea Domingo: The name of the game

Andrea Domingo
Andrea Domingo

She has been in the limelight for decades, yet, her name does not ring a bell to many Filipinos.

“It doesn’t matter,” she said with a smile.

Her simple life and her untarnished reputation as a public figure shield her from the prying eyes of the hyper-critical public. This is the reason why the name Andrea Domingo remains undetected by the radar of the intrusive and meddlesome netizens. The chairman and CEO of the Philippine Gaming Corporation shuns publicity and enjoys working diligently at the background and in making sure that her job is done according to her own style of leadership – tough on the outside, gentle in the inside.

The name of the game, she said, is leadership. For her leadership means competence in the field of management, problem solving and decision making and basic knowledge in human relations and communications. This is probably one of the reasons why her name landed first in the list of President Rodrigo Duterte’s first bulk of appointees after winning the presidential elections in 2016.

Of course, her appointment did not come easy; she must have to pass strict screening as the new government needed firm, clean and real working leaders who would help carry on Duterte’s campaign promise of a graft-free and competent government. She did not disappoint as her resume is dotted with expertise, experience and competency having served as Immigration Commissioner twice (1989-1992 and 2001-2004), as congresswoman of the Third District of Pampanga (1992-1995) and then as CEO of the Reclamation Authority (2007-2010). Add this to the notable awards she received from various award-giving bodies that served as her endorsement like the “Most Outstanding Congressman Award, Excel Awardee for Public Service, the University of the Philippines IMC Outstanding Alumnae, Most Outstanding Capampangan, Most Outstanding Fernandina” and “Ginintuang Ina Award.” To her, however, her reputation as a strong person, her experience in government service and her brand of no nonsense leadership may have called the attention of
the President in appointing her to one of the controversial and challenging government offices. “I have no time for nonsense and I have no time for bad people. I guess that’s what they see in me… I’m now 70 years old, so I must have learned many things in the last 51 years that I have been working. I also love our country and our people.”

Indeed, Domingo is fully aware that she is working in one of the controversial and graft-prone agencies of the government. PAGCOR, often called a snake pit, operates casinos and VIP slots across the country and oversees and regulates privately owned casinos, bingo parlors and several e-games. It employs more than 10,000 staff. As a government owned and controlled corporation, it helps generate funds for various government socio-civic programs.

She admitted that her appointment to PAGCOR was a surprise. “I didn’t know what PAGCOR was. I thought it’s gambling, casinos and all of that. I didn’t know that it owns 44 stations and regulates all of the e-bingo, e-games and all the integrated resort casinos. When I got here, I said ‘my goodness, what am I gonna do?’ I don’t gamble.” However, after meticulously studying the works and doings of the agency, including what goals the agency must have and how to go meeting these goals, she rolled her sleeves and started working to steer the government firm in the right directions.

“The goals are to effectively regulate and operate gaming stations. We have to ensure a level playing field among all the casino owners. You cannot favor one over the other. You have to pay bets, jackpots, taxes and everything,” she said. With this as an immediate objective, PAGCOR’s gross earnings zoomed to P104 billion in 2018 from P47.5 billion in 2015. “The amazing thing about it is in 2015, the opex ratio to gross revenue was 33%. Right now, we are at 18% so we’re spending less but earning more,” she said.

She admitted though that PAGCOR is one complex organization. “The activities are complex, therefore, decision making requires a lot of thinking and retrospection and also because it contributes directly to the socio-civic welfare of our people. One must be able to wisely and competently decide on what programs and projects to assist.” In all these, she said, PAGCOR is happy to help the government implement various projects.

“At least 50% of what we give to the treasury goes to Universal Health Care Program of the government. We also able to support sport programs, the wrongly-imprisoned people and young children, and the training of Dangerous Drugs Board agents, the police, NBI and the military. Right now, we are putting up hospitals for the police, military and another one for OFWs and some other general hospitals,” she said.

Working to ensure that PAGCOR would realize its mission and vision to ensure that it would stay afloat as a dependable source of government funds, she said she has four ideas which she would pursue vigorously for a sustainable gaming firms. This means that PAGCOR would regulate gaming by banning illegal gambling and foul play at the gaming stations, promote responsible gaming and collect the maximum revenue due the government.

She also said that PAGCOR would promote the concept that gaming is part of whole package or tourism programs. “It is always best to promote gaming not hard gambling, treating gaming as something that is part of entertainment and amusement,” she said.

Now a step closer to leaving government service for good she said that she would be happy to retire when the time comes and devote herself to channeling her energy to painting and dancing and looking after her family and praying. “This is my last job and I intend to make it significant and salient.”