TRC head goes on leave over ‘pork’ scam

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The head of another government corporation announced on Friday, September 6, that he would be taking “an indefinite leave of absence” after he and his agency were linked to the pork barrel scam.

Technology Resource Center (TRC) director general Dennis Cunanan said he wanted to shield the agency from the controversy and to clear his name while investigations were being conducted.

TRC, which is attached to the Department of Science and Technology, is one of the few government corporations included in the special audit of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

It was formerly known as the Technology and Livelihood Resource Center, or TLRC.

TRC, the National Agri-Business Corporation, the ZNAC Rubber Estate Corporation (both under the agriculture department), and the National Livelihood Development Corporation were identified as having cornered the biggest chunk of lawmakers’ pork barrel from 2007-2009.

These PDAF releases through TRC and the other government corporations found their way to dubious non-governmental organizations that had ghost projects and beneficiaries. Misusing a total of P6 billion over 3 years, 82 NGOs allegedly gave kickbacks to senators and congressmen who endorsed them.

A check made by Rappler showed that during the years covered by the special audit, P347.91 million in senators’ PDAF misused by 8 NGOs was coursed through TRC.

The senators and the total PDAF misused were:

Below is the list of NGOs that, according to state auditors, misused lawmakers funds that were released through TRC from 2007-2009:

 

“I am confident that ultimately my name will be cleared as my actions on this issue will bear me out…. One of my first official actions upon assuming the helm in TRC [was] to look into the PDAF disbursements,” said Cunanan.

Cunanan was appointed by President Gloria Arroyo in 2009 and re-appointed by President Benigno Aquino III the following year.

He said that since 2010 – “long before Janet Lim-Napoles made the headlines” – TRC had stopped implementing PDAF-funded projects.

In fact, he said, it was during his time that TRC black-listed 44 NGOs that failed to liquidate the pork barrel released to them. Eight of these NGOs turned out to be Napoles dummies.

That year, the agency also started cooperating with the Commission on Audit in probing into NGOs Cunanan said he had also appeared before the National Bureau of Investigation in connection to the PDAF scam probe.

Cunanan said that in COA Report No. 2012-03, the auditing team cited TRC “for its corrective actions” on the discovered misuse of the PDAF.

“Upon takeover of the present management in 2010, NGOs with unliquidated funds were notified individually. A TRC blacklist [submitted to the auditing team] containing NGOs with derogatory records, was also issued…. The team appreciates the actions taken by the TRC officials,” Cunanan quoted the report.

Cunanan said it was under his watch that TRC adopted “stricter eligibility requirements, accreditation rules, and monitoring procedures for NGOs” that wanted to partner with the agency. – Miriam Grace A. Go/Rappler.com