A former lawmaker of Albay province faces trial before the Sandiganbayan for his alleged misuse of some P27 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the Office of the Ombudsman said Friday, June 17.
The Ombudsman affirmed the filing of charges against former Representative Reno Lim, of Albay’s third district, for the use of his PDAF in 2007.
Also facing trial for four counts each of graft and malversation are five Technology Resource Center (TRC) officials, Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation Inc. representatives and Carmelita Barredo of C.C. Barredo Publishing House.
Based on the Ombudsman’s list, they are:
* TRC executives Antonio Ortiz, Dennis Cunanan, Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, Marivic Jover and Consuelo Lilian Espiritu
* KMFI representatives Carlos Soriano and France Mercado.
Also, the Ombudsman affirmed the administrative liability of Jover and Espiritu for grave misconduct and ordered their dismissal from service.
Investigation showed Lim requested the release of his PDAF amounting to P30 million in August and November 2007, and identified TRC as implementing agency with KMFI as NGO partner.
The P30 million was for the procurement of 8,000 livelihood instructional materials and technology kits.
In 2008, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed by Lim, TRC and KMFI representatives, with Lim “personally (having) handpicked KMFI twice as project implementor without the benefit of public bidding.”
Among the anomalies uncovered by the Commission on Audit were:
– lack of public bidding
– lack of track record of KMFI as it was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission only in 2006
– the NGO had no legitimate business address as its address is the same as C.C. Barredo
– no accreditation process undertaken to determine the capacity of KMFI
– payment of P27 million was made prior to signing the MOA
– project was considered “fictitious or ghost project” as no deliveries of livelihood kits were made.
Ombudsman investigators also found “not one among the constituents of said legislative district received the livelihood technology kit.”
Lim claimed he was not liable as he had no hand in its disbursement, and that he relied “in good faith that it will be used for the purpose it was intended.”
But the Ombudsman said the evidence, including sworn statements of the witnesses, the disbursement vouchers, the endorsed/encashed checks, the agreements with KMFI, the written requests, liquidation reports, confirmation letters and other evidence on record, “indubitably establish that [Lim] connived with the TRC officials in the repeated conversion of his P30-million PDAF.”