Ombudsman OKs indictment of ex-Albay solon
|Former 3rd district Albay Representative Reno Lim|
Included in the charge sheet are TRC executives Antonio Ortiz, Dennis Cunanan, Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, Marivic Jover and Consuelo Lilian Espiritu, as well as KMFI representatives Carlos Soriano and France Mercado.
In the related administrative case, the Ombudsman also affirmed the administrative liability of Jover and Espiritu for Grave Misconduct and ordered their dismissal from the service.
Records show that in August and November 2007, Lim requested the release of his PDAF amounting to P30million and identified TRC as implementing agency with KMFI as NGO-partner.
The P30million was intended for the procurement of 8,000 sets of livelihood instructional materials and technology kits. In 2008, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed by Lim, TRC and KMFI representatives. In its implementation, Lim “personally handpicked KMFI twice as project implementor without the benefit of public bidding.”
The Commission on Audit (COA) uncovered blatant anomalies in the fund use, citing the 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 P27million was made prior to signing the MOA; and project was considered “fictitious or ghost project” as no deliveries of livelihood kits were made.
In their field validation, Ombudsman investigators ascertained that “not one among the constituents of said legislative district received the livelihood technology kit.”
In his Motion for Reconsideration, Lim claimed that “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.”
In junking Lim’s contentions, the Ombudsman stated that “the evidence [consisting] of sworn statements of the witnesses, the disbursement vouchers, the indorsed/encashed checks, the MOA’s 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.”
The Ombudsman added that “the findings of this Office are also buttressed by the Notices of Disallowance recently issued by the Commission on Audit on 26 October 2015.”