In a ruling dated March 29, the appellate court said it did not lose its jurisdiction to resolve the petition of Dennis Cunanan challenging his dismissal which was ordered by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2017.
Associate Justice Ruben Reynaldo G. Roxas wrote the ruling which was concurred in by Associate Justices Marlene Gonzales Sison and Victoria Isabel A. Paredes.
Three complaints were filed against Cunanan and other TLRC officials before the Ombudsman in connection with the disbursement of the PHP35 million PDAF of then Rep. Salacnib F. Baterina of Ilocos Sur.
Baterina wrote to then TLRC Director General Antonio Ortiz and Cunanan designating the Philippine Social Development Foundation, Inc. (PSDFI) and Kaagapay Magpakailanpaman Foundation, Inc. (KMFI) as recipients of his PHP35 million PDAF in 2007.
After the signing of the memoranda for the projects, the former TLRC officers certified and signed the disbursement vouchers and other documents for the release of funds.
The Ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office (FIO) found that the TLRC officials participated directly in the projects through submission of requirements like project profile, fund utilization, project implementation and monitoring.
A Commission on Audit (COA) investigation bared showed that there were no documents submitted to substantiate the actual utilization and liquidation of the allocated funds, and the selected non-government organizations (NGOs) as recipients of the PDAF funds were not accredited by the TLRC before release of said funds.
The FIO also found that no training or livelihood projects were implemented in the towns identified as recipients of the funds, and no farm inputs or livelihood materials were distributed to target beneficiaries.
“Being the Deputy Director General of TLRC, he ought to know that the mere endorsement of Congressman Baterina is insufficient to determine the implementing non-governmental organization. The lapses in his responsibilities also manifested when the COA discovered that the addresses provided by PSDFI and KMFI were dubious which he could have known had he conducted a verification of the documents submitted by the NGOs," the CA noted.
“These… failures on his part facilitated the release of public funds which caused serious damage and grave prejudice to the government. Furthermore, even if petitioner's acts were to be separated from the acts of the other officers of TLRC, he should be held liable for the offenses charged against him,” it added.
Cunanan resigned from the TLRC in 2014.