SECTIONS
Sunday, September 22, 2019

16 years after payout, fake foundation’s case still going

THE Sandiganbayan will continue with the graft trial of one of the founders of a bogus private foundation that cornered P5 million in the Capitol’s funds in 2002.

The anti-graft court’s Special Third Division denied the motion to quash the information filed by Teodora Limcangco, one of the five incorporators of Perdido Lex Foundation Inc.

“The Court finds that the information, in this case, contains the requisite factual averments, which, if hypothetically, admitted, would establish the elements of the said offense,” read the Sandiganbayan’s resolution penned by Associate Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang.

The anti-graft court also ordered the issuance of an alias arrest warrant for Limcangco, who stands accused of violating Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The Perdido Lex case developed more than a decade before state auditors found out that fake foundations had been created to receive billions in pork barrel funds.

What foundation?

The case stemmed from newspaper reports in 2004 on the release of P5 million to Perdido Lex by the Province. The funds were meant to finance a computerization program for Cebu’s youth.

Graft investigators later discovered the foundation did not exist and its incorporators were nowhere to be found—except for one who turned out to be the housekeeper of then Cebu vice governor John Gregory “John-John” Osmeña.

Apart from Limcangco, the ombudsman also indicted the other Perdido Lex incorporators: Milagros Herrera, Fe Tan, and Nancy Sia.

Former provincial accountant Marieto Ypil was charged with violating Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019, for allegedly causing undue injury to the government by giving a private party unwarranted benefit, advantage and preference.

Charged with Ypil were Osmeña, former Provincial Board member Victor Maambong, and Willie Mulla, Osmeña’s chief of staff.

The ombudsman also found Mulla guilty of grave misconduct and ordered his dismissal from the service.

On the other hand, anti-graft investigators Sarah Jo Vergara, Euphemia Bacalso and Allan Francisco Garciano absolved then Cebu governor Pablo Garcia, saying his signing of the vouchers was “a ministerial task.” They also cleared House Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia, who was then her father’s consultant.

Framed?

In 2013, the Sandiganbayan Third Division dismissed the graft case against Osmeña for lack of evidence. The justices saw Osmeña as “the victim of a frame-up.” Osmeña and his co-accused Veronica Ceceres, one of the foundation’s owners, had no participation in the release of P5 million to the Perdido Lex Foundation, the court ruled.

In her motion to quash, Limcangco argued that the grounds cited in the case information do not constitute an offense.

She said she had no participation in the allegedly hasty accreditation of Perdido Lex or its memorandum of agreement with the Capitol, which was the basis for the release of P5 million in public funds.

But the prosecution argued that the information showed sufficient evidence to charge Limcangco with violating the anti-graft law.

In the resolution, the Sandiganbayan ruled that Limcangco’s motion lacked merit. It said that the facts of the case records “actually constitute her defenses.”

“As the prosecution correctly points out, it is not necessary that the accused-movant participated in each and every act that led to the consummation of the crime,” the resolution read.
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