pork barrel scam

Ex-Cotabato congressman convicted of graft, malversation in P9.6-M pork barrel scam case

Rappler.com

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The Sandiganbayan's Third Division also convicts former Technology and Livelihood Resource Center officials Dennis Cunanan and Marivic Jover

The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has convicted former Cotabato 2nd District representative Gregorio Ipong and two other former government officials of graft and malversation of public funds over a multimillion-peso livelihood project funded by the then-lawmaker’s pork barrel funds in 2007.

The Sandiganbayan’s Third Division declared Ipong, Technology and Livelihood Resource Center deputy director general Dennis Cunanan, and TLRC chief accountant Marivic Jover guilty beyond reasonable doubt of giving preference to non-government organization Aaron Foundation Philippines Incorporated to implement a P9.6-million project, even if AFPI had no government accreditation.

Associate Justice Ronald B. Moreno penned the 40-page decision, with Presiding Justice Amparo M. Cabotaje Tang and Bernelito R. Fernandez concurring.

Ipong, Cunanan, and Jover were sentenced to 6 to 10 years imprisonment for the graft case, and 12 to 18 years for the malversation case. They were also perpetually disqualified from holding government office.

The court ordered them to pay a P9.6-million fine with legal interest accruing from the finality of the decision until fully paid.

“The individual acts of Ipong, Cunanan, and Jover, although seemingly distinct, if taken together, reveal a common design and oneness of purpose,” the court said.

It added that “through their individual negligent acts” they “permitted AFPI to take such a substantial amount of public funds.”

The prosecutors accused Ipong of endorsing AFPI for livelihood projects funded by his Priority Assistance Development Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel funds. Cunanan and Jover signed the disbursement voucher even if the NGO was not accredited by any government regulatory body, as required under Commission on Audit Circular No. 96-003.

The court said that AFPI would not have gotten hold of the P9.6-million fund without the individual participation of the 3.

State auditors and graft investigators said the funds were never returned. There was no submitted liquidation of the amount to prove that the purpose intended for the release of the fund was achieved. – Rappler.com

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