Councilor: I wasn’t appointed to handle father’s P3.5M PDAF-A A +A
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
CEBU City Councilor James Anthony Cuenco denied any involvement in the alleged misuse of the P3.5-million Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocation of his father, former Cebu City south district congressman Antonio Cuenco.
The Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas is investigating the older Cuenco's PDAF allocation that went to the Tony N' Tommy (TNT) Health Program, which gave medical assistance to less fortunate constituents in his district. He was included in the complaint, but he was later cleared by graft investigators.
Auditors found that the beneficiaries of the TNT program were fictitious and their signatures were forged.
“After a careful perusal of all the doctors' affidavits, nowhere can it be found any statement implicating my good name in the alleged forgery or falsification of their respective signatures on the prescriptions,” he said in his counter-affidavit.
Lawyer Inocencio dela Cerna filed Councilor Cuenco’s reply before the anti-graft office last Friday.
Councilor Cuenco, along with two others, were accused of operating the office that managed the PDAF for the TNT and screened beneficiaries of the program in 2002.
The councilor denied this. He said his father did not appoint him or any person to fulfill the task.
“The allegation that I operated the ‘screening office,’ which was known as the Tony and Tommy (TNT) office has in fact no basis as there was no documentation designating and authorizing me to exercise the said function/role,” he sais.
Witness James Yrastorza, former TNT office employee, recanted his accusation against Cuenco, saying he had no “personal knowledge” of the alleged scam.
“After a sober soul-searching assessment and analysis of the circumstances and/or transactions, I realized that I have made an improper appreciation of the facts. The truth being that while I was the administrative assistant at TNT office, I have no personal knowledge whatsoever with regard to the participation and/or involvement of James Cuenco to the alleged irregular transactions,” he said in his affidavit.
The Supreme Court (SC) upheld earlier the order of the Commission on Audit (COA) for Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) to return Cuenco's PDAF, which was intended for prescriptions and anti-rabies vaccines.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 24, 2013.