Ombudsman filing graft charges versus Albay congressman

The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the filing of graft and corruption charges against one-term Albay congressman Rino Lim for the anomalous utilization of his 2007 PDAF amounting to P27 million.

Lim, together with five Technology Resource Center officials, Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation Inc. (KMFI) representatives and Carmelita Barredo of C. C. Barredo Publishing House are facing charges of four counts of graft and corruption and four counts of malversation.

Also 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 and France Mercado.

Records show that in August and November 2007, Lim requested the release of his PDAF amounting to P30 million and identified the TRC as the implementing agency with KMFI as non-government organization-partner.

The P30 million was intended for the procurement of 8,000 sets of livelihood instructional materials and technology kits.

In 2008, a memorandum of agreement was signed by Lim, TRC and KMFI representatives.

Lim personally handpicked KMFI twice as project implementor without the benefit of public bidding.

The Commission on Audit uncovered blatant anomalies in the fund use like the lack of public bidding held, the absence of track record of KMFI as it was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission only in 2006. The NGO has no legitimate business address it was using the address of C. C. Barredo.

The COA also disclosed there was no accreditation process undertaken to determine the capacity of KMFI. A payment of P27 million was made prior to the signing of the memorandum of agreement. The agency also pointed out that the project was considered “fictitious or ghost project” as no deliveries of livelihood kits were made.

Ombudsman investigators ascertained in their filed validation that “not one among the constituents of said legislative district received the livelihood technology kit.”

In finding probable cause, the resolution narrated that “Lim had treated the same (funds) 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.”

According to Morales, the respondents’ combined acts indubitably point to a concerted action to divert public funds drawn from Lim’s PDAF.

She added that “the nefarious scheme basically involved projects supposed to be funded by PDAF, which projects turned out to be fictitious or non-existent. (PNA)


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