Friday, April 29, 2016

Ombudsman certifies that ex-solon Lagman has no pending case
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, April 28 (PNA) –- The Office of the Ombudsman has certified that their records as of April 21, 2016 showed that former 1st District representative Edcel C. Lagman has no pending criminal and administrative cases with the agency.

The Ombudsman's clearance was recently issued by Maria Agnes L. Forteza, Graft Investigation Officer I on the request of Lagman for election purposes.

Earlier, Hernando Bruce and Roberto Barcela was reported as having charged Lagman and his daughter, former Tabaco City Mayor Krisel Lagman-Luistro, with graft and malversation of public funds before the Office of the Ombudsman.

Burce and Barcela alleged that Lagman misused Php129.7 million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel for various projects of Lagman-Luistro in Tabaco City.

They also cited a Commission on Audit report on Lagman's PDAF from 2007 to 2009 that alleged, among others, that he diverted Php86 million of his PDAF for areas outside his legislative district, according to the reported complaint.

They further alleged that Lagman funded the construction of private properties in Quezon City worth Php18.56 million, including the repair of a clubhouse in a private subdivision.

Lagman, however, branded the complaint against him and his daughter, as inordinately belated, malicious, partisan and baseless.

He said he is presently running for representative in the First District of Albay while Lagman-Luistro is an aspirant for mayor in Tabaco City.

The veteran Albay lawmaker said the alleged special COA report referred to by the complainants is tentative and lacks sufficient basis.

Lagman said he was never previously informed of any investigation on this matter by COA and he was not notified to submit controverting evidence.

"The accusation that I had misused my PDAF is utterly false and malevolent,” he said.

Lagman said the erstwhile Php70 million annual PDAF per congressional district was inelastic and cannot be exceeded in any given year.

“Consequently, the huge total amount which I had allegedly misused is much more than my PDAF allocations,” Lagman said.

He said he had allocated his entire yearly PDAF to programs and projects solely for the First District of Albay.

He said the reported projects elsewhere were funded from his leadership fund which was traditionally allocated to ranking leaders of the House of Representatives like the Speaker, the Deputy Speakers, the Majority and Minority Leaders and the Chairman of the committee on appropriations, which position he held during the first half of the 14th Congress (2007 - 2008).

The leadership fund is a nationwide allocation to allow leaders of the House of Representatives to respond to requests outside of their respective districts.

It is legitimate and appropriated in the previous annual General Appropriations Acts, Lagman said. (PNA) LAP/FGS/CBD