THE Office of the Ombudsman has filed criminal charges before the Sandiganbayan against former top officials of the Technology and Livelihood Resources Center (TLRC) over the alleged anomalous spending of the P10 million Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of the late Compostela Valley Rep. Prospero Amatong in 2013.
Separate information for graft and malversation of public funds drafted by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer Jinky A. Anarna were filed against former TLRC director general Antonio Ortiz and his successor, Dennis Cunanan, legislative liaison officer Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, and Corporate Support Services group manager Francsico Figura.
Named private defendants in the graft charge only were Philippine Environmental and Ecological Development Association, Inc. (PEEDAI) chief executive officer Butch Canoy, chief operating officer Vincent Jaudian, vice president Alfredo Soriano and treasurer Mercy Cabig.
Ombudsman Samuel Martires approved the filing of the cases on July 18, 2019 based on the recommendation of Preliminary Investigation Bureau director Nellie P. Boguen-Golez.
The information charged the defendants with conspiracy to defraud the government by funneling Amatong’s PDAF into PEEDAI for supposed implementation of livelihood projects in the second legislative district of Compostela Valley province without conducting the required public bidding.
Investigators said P9.8 million was transferred to PEEDAI while the P200,000 was retained by the TLRC as “service fee.”
They noted that PEEDAI had doubtful credentials and was not accredited as a non-government organization as required under RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
Cunanan, Lacsmana and Figura were implicated for facilitating, processing, and releasing the PDAF in favor of PEEDAI even if the latter failed to submit periodic projects reports and liquidation.
“By their above acts, accused public officers allowed (private defendants) to take possession and thus misappropriate public funds instead of implementing the said PDAF-funded project …which turned out to be non-existent,” the prosecution said.
Anarna recommended P30,000 bail bond for the graft case but requested that the anti-graft court hold the malversation case non-bailable, which means the defendants could end up straight in jail once the court finds probable cause against them for the issuance of an arrest warrant.