By Benjamin Pulta
MANILA – The Sandiganbayan has convicted three former officials of the Technology Resource Center (formerly the Technology and Livelihood Resource Center or TLRC) on graft and malversation charges over irregularities in the use of the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of a former Laguna lawmaker in 2007.
In its 108-page decision dated Feb. 4 and written by Associate Justice Kevin Vivero, the anti-graft court’s sixth division has found Dennis Cunanan, Marivic Jover and Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana guilty of malversation charges and sentenced them to up to 18 years in jail.
The three were also found guilty on separate charges of graft and were each sentenced to up to eight years imprisonment and were perpetually banned from holding public office.
They were also ordered to refund PHP9.8 million representing the sum involved in the case, as well as another PHP9.8 million in fines.
The charges arose from ghost projects awarded using the pork barrel of then Laguna Rep. Danton Q. Bueser.
Cunanan, then TLRC/TRC deputy director-general, certified that expenses are necessary and lawful even as the fund transfer to the non-government agency (NGO) Aaron Foundation Philippines Inc. (AFPI) and the selection of the beneficiary NGO was not in accordance with existing laws and that the physical existence of AFPI is questionable and its documents submitted deficient.
Jover, meanwhile, was the TLRC’s officer in charge of the accounting division and certified the availability of funds and the completeness of supporting documents despite irregularities.
“In fine, the totality of the facts and circumstances proved beyond cavil that Cunanan, Jover and Lacsamana, through manifest partiality and gross inexcusable negligence, acted with unity of purpose, in giving unwarranted benefits to AFPI and causing undue injury to the government,” the court said.
The charge against another accused, Alfredo Ronquillo, who was the payee of the transactions as AFPI president has been dismissed due to his death while the case against him was pending.
The case against former TLRC director general Antonio Ortiz, who remains at large, was ordered archived to be revived upon his arrest or voluntary surrender. (PNA)