NGO scam: ‘un caso perdido’-A A +A
Monday, March 4, 2013
THE person who christened Perdido Lex Foundation that swindled Cebu Province of P5 million in 2004 must have an odd sense of humor. He seemed to have been teasing state regulators who screened its application for money.
"Perdido" is Spanish for (1) lost, (2) habitual or deep-rooted, or (3) hopeless, as in "Es un caso perdido."
John-John Osmeña, then a young and obviously naïve vice governor, initiated or picked up the proposal of educating poor young people through a Capitol grant. It was his staff that pushed the papers on the subsidy.
Nobody--from the committee that examined its papers, to the Provincial Board that approved the project, to the governor who signed the PB resolution and released the fund—diligently checked Perdido's background and its organizers' identity.
Compared to the recently uncovered P195-million fraud by a dubious NGO that siphoned in 2011 pork barrel funds from the Senate president and two other senators and one congressman, the Perdido scam in Cebu involved only a fraction of what Congress lost.
But the badges of fraud were similar and, worse in the local tale of woe, the perpetrators raised a warning.
John-John, Sandigabayan ruled two years ago, was victim of a frame-up. But the ruling didn't say who entrapped him and how they got his prints all over.
Every future case of NGO theft of public money inevitably summons memories of the Perdido Lex heist, which to this day remains shrouded in mystery and could offer lessons on safeguarding government assets.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 05, 2013.