TRC execs charged anew over ‘pork’ scam
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - November 12, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Officials of the abolished state firm Technology Resource Center (TRC) are facing another set of criminal cases before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the multibillion-peso pork barrel fund scam.

Charges of graft and malversation of public funds were filed against TRC director general Antonio Ortiz, deputy director general Dennis Cunanan, legislative liaison officer Rosalinda Lacsamana and corporate support services group manager Francisco Figura by the Office of the Ombudsman on Oct. 21.

Named as co-respondents in the graft case were officials of the non-government organization (NGO) Philippine Environmental and Ecological Development Association Inc. (PEEDAI).

They were chief executive officer Butch Canoy, chief operating officer Vincent Jaudian, vice president Alfredo Soriano and treasurer Mercy Cabig.

The cases stemmed from the alleged misuse of P10 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of the late Compostella Valley congressman Prospero Amatong from 2007 to 2013.

Based on the complaint prepared by graft investigation and prosecution officer Jinky Anarna, the TRC (formerly Technology and Livelihood Resource Center) released to PEEDAI a total of P9.8 million for the supposed implementation of Amatong’s livelihood project in his district. 

The ombudsman said an additional P200,000 in service fee was retained by the TRC for the cost of the livelihood materials.

The ombudsman said the entire amount was drawn from Amatong’s PDAF.

According to ombudsman prosecutors, the project was awarded to PEEDAI without public bidding required under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

The ombudsman said the funding was released to PEEDAI at once, in violation of the Commission on Audit (COA) Circular 96-003, which states that funds for a periodic project must be released at least in three tranches. 

Worse, the ombudsman said its investigation revealed that the project turned out to be “ghost” or non-existent.

Among the prosecution witnesses were investigators from the ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office, Susan Garcia of the COA Special Audits Office and representatives from the Company Registration and Monitoring Department of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The charge sheets were approved by Ombudsman Samuel Martires on July 18. The cases were raffled off to the Sandiganbayan Second Division on Oct. 25.

Ortiz, Cunanan and the other TRC officials are facing graft and malversation cases before the Sandiganbayan as co-respondents of several lawmakers over the alleged releases of their PDAF to bogus NGOs, including those founded by the alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.         

ROSALINDA LACSAMANA
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