• Ex-Albay congressman faces raps

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    THE Office of the Ombudsman affirmed its ruling to file graft and malversation charges before the Sandiganbayan against former Albay 3rd district Rep. Reno Lim and eight others over the alleged anomalous use of his P27-million Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel allocation in 2007.

    In November last year, the Ombudsman found probable cause to file the charges which prompted Lim to file a Motion for Reconsideration.

    Lim claimed “he is not liable for his PDAF having no hand in its disbursement and having relied in good faith that it will be used for the purpose it was intended.”

    But the Ombudsman junked his argument, saying that “the evidence [consisting]of sworn statements of the witnesses, the disbursement vouchers, the indorsed/encashed checks, the MOA’s [memoranda of agreement]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                            P30million PDAF.”

    KMFI is the non-government organization (NGO) Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation Inc., while TRC is the Technology Resource Center.

    “[T]he findings of this Office are also buttressed by the Notices of Disallowance recently issued by the Commission on Audit on 26 October 2015,” the Ombudsman said.

    Also indicted along with Lim were former TRC Director General Antonio Ortiz, former TRC Deputy Director General Dennis Cunanan and then-TRC employees Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, Marivic Jover, and Consuelo Lilian Espiritu.

    Carmelita Barredo of C.C. Barredo Publishing House, as well as then-KMFI representatives Carlos Soriano and France Mercado were also included.

    In a statement issued on Friday, the Ombudsman said that Lim requested in August and November 2007 the release of his PDAF allocation and identified TRC as implementing agency with KMFI as NGO-partner.

    The funds were meant for the purchase of 8,000 sets of livelihood instructional materials and technology kits.

    However, Ombudsman investigators found during field validation that “not one among the constituents of said legislative district received the livelihood  technology kit.”

    Meanwhile, in related administrative case, the Ombudsman affirmed the administrative liability of Jover and Espiritu for grave misconduct and ordered their dismissal from the service.

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