In a landmark legal development, the esteemed former TRC Director General, Dennis Cunanan, and the accomplished Corporate Support Services Manager, Francisco Figura, have received a verdict of exoneration from the Sandiganbayan concerning charges of graft and malversation. These charges were closely linked to the alleged misuse of discretionary funds owned by a former Compostela Valley representative during the extensive period from 2007 to 2013.
On August 4, the court’s Second Division delivered a comprehensive 57-page decision, ultimately absolving Dennis Cunanan and Francisco Figura, primarily due to the prosecution’s inability to substantiate their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. However, in a contrasting outcome, their former colleague and co-defendant, the former TRC legislative liaison Rosalinda Lacsamana, was found guilty of the same charges. Consequently, Lacsamana has been met with a sentencing that involves serving up to 18 years in confinement and a financial penalty of P30 million in civil damages.
These notable charges against Dennis Cunanan, Figura, and Lacsamana were initially brought forth by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2019. The allegations center around their purported involvement in a complex conspiracy, which notably included the late Compostela Valley Rep. Prospero Amatong, in connection with a contentious P10-million project in collaboration with the non-governmental organization Philippine Environmental and Ecological Development Association. This project is said to have unfolded between 2007 and 2013.