The Office of the Ombudsman has recommended the filing of malversation case against former Rep. Reno Lim of Albay’s third district and five former officials of Technology Resource Center for the anomalous use of P27 million of Priority Development Allocation Fund (PDAF) in 2007.
Also facing charges before the Sandiganbayan are former officials of TRC, Directors General Antonio Ortiz and Dennis Cunanan; group manager Maria Rosalinda Lacsa-mana; chief Accountant Marivic Jover; and Consuelo Lilian Espiritu.
Indicted with them were Carlos Soriano and France Mercado, representatives of Kaagapay Magpa-kailanman Foundation Inc. (KMFI), a non government organization, as well as Carmelita Barredo of C.C. Barredo Publishing House.
Records show that Lim requested the release of his PDAF allocation in August and November 2007 for the purchase of 8,000 sets of livelihood instructional materials and technology kits.
But the PDAF-funded projects allegedly “turned out to be fictitious or inexistent.”
In 2008, Lim and representatives of the TRC and KMFI – which Lim identified as the implementing agency and NGO-partner, respectively – signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA).
Aside from the lack of public bidding, the office cited a Commission on Audit (COA) finding that the KMFI was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission only in 2006.
COA also found that the NGO “has no legitimate business” because its address was the same as the supplier C.C. Barredo, and that no accreditation process was undertaken to determine the KMFI’s capacity.
The P27 million was paid before the MoA was signed and the project was considered “ ghost project” because there were allegedly no deliveries of livelihood kits made, COA further said.
Lim, in defense, refuted the authenticity of his signatures in the documents and said that as “a neophyte congressman, he merely followed the PDAF pre-implementation procedure.”
But in finding probable cause, the office said “Lim had treated the same [fund]as it were his own funds, dictating how it should be utilized and released. He not only determined the project, the implementing agency and the NGO, but also determined how much of his PDAF should go to the projects.”