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Former TRC officials charged over PDAF ‘ghost’ project

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by Allan Yves Briones

Four former officials from the defunct Technology Resource Center will be facing criminal charges over a ghost project funded by the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Former TRC director general Antonio Ortiz, deputy director general Dennis Cunanan, legislative liaison officer Rosalinda Lacsamana and corporate services group manager Francisco Figura were charged with graft and malversation for allegedly misusing of the PDAF funds of a former solon.

According to the Office of the Ombudsman, from 2007 to 2013, the accused funneled former Compostela Valley representative Prospero Amatong’s PDAF allocation into the Philippine Environmental and Ecological Development Association (PEEDAI), against its intended purpose.

The P10 million infusion was reportedly to be used to boost activity in Compostela Valley, aptly named “District-Wide Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Promotions and Development Program”, and was conducted without the benefit of a public bidding.

According to Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer II Jinky Anarna, the scheme implemented by the accused TRC and PEEDAI executives caused significant harm to, not only the valley’s 2nd district, but to the national government.

“(The false implementation) of the said PDAF-funded projects in the 2nd District of Compostela Valley, which project turned out to be non-existent, to the damage and prejudice of the government in the said amount,” she said.

Also facing charges before the Sandiganbayan 2nd Division, minus the malversation raps, are PEEDAI representatives including chief executive officer Butch Canoy, chief operating officer Vincent Jaudian, vice president Alfredo Soriano and treasurer Mercy Cabig.

The penalty for graft and malversation under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, if the accused were to be found guilty, involves significant prison time, the payment of a fine equal to the funds malversed, and disqualification from ever holding public office.

Last August 8, Cunanan was implicated in another legal issue: the grant of P16 million in illegal benefits.

TRC was abolished in 2014 by former president Benigno Aquino III through a memorandum.

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