• Ex-North Cotabato lawmaker,
    4 others face raps over ‘pork’


    THE Office of the Ombudsman has filed graft and malversation charges at the Sandiganbayan against dismissed North Cotabato Vice Governor Gregorio Ipong and four other individuals over the alleged misappropriation of P4.9-million Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in 2007 when he was the congressional representative of the province’s second district.

    Named respondents along with Ipong were former Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC) Director General Antonio Ortiz, former TLRC Deputy Director General Dennis Cunanan, and former TLRC Chief Accountant Marivic Jover. Alfredo Ronquillo, who was identified in the charge sheets as then-president of the Aaron Foundation Philippines Inc. (AFPI), was also charged.

    The Ombudsman alleged in the charge sheets that “in disregard of the appropriation law and its implementing rules and/or” without the required public bidding, Ipong “unilaterally chose and endorsed” the “unaccredited and unqualified” non-government organization AFPI as project partner in implementing PDAF-funded livelihood projects for his then-constituents in North Cotabato’s second district.

    Ipong and Ortiz then allegedly entered into a memorandum of agreement with AFPI on the implementation of the projects, it added.

    Ortiz allegedly “facilitated, processed, and approved the disbursement” of the PDAF release by supposedly signing a disbursement voucher along with Jover, and Cunanan, as well as supposedly causing the issuance of a check in the amount of P4.9 million to AFPI, which was allegedly “signed by Ortiz, without accused [then-]TLRC Officers and Employees having carefully examined and verified the accreditation and qualification of AFPI as well as the transaction’s supporting documents.”

    Ronquillo, who supposedly operated and/or controlled AFPI according to the charge sheets, allegedly received the check from TLRC.

    “By their above acts, Ipong and the above-named [then-]TLRC officials allowed Ronquillo, through AFPI, to take possession and thus misappropriate PDAF-drawn public funds, instead of implementing the PDAF-funded projects, which turned out to be non-existent, while Ronquillo failed to submit liquidation reports despite demand by the Commission on Audit, to the damage and prejudice of the Republic of the Philippines,” the Ombudsman alleged.

    The Ombudsman recommended a total of P70,000 bail for the provisional liberty of the respondents. REINA TOLENTINO



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