MANILA - Another former lawmaker, Gregorio Tocmo Ipong, joins the growing list of public officials accused by the Office of the Ombudsman at the Sandiganbayan for misappropriating their so-called pork barrel funds.
The Ombudsman has accused Ipong, former Representative of the 2nd District of North Cotabato, of a 9.6 million peso graft case after funneling his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in April 2007 to non-existent projects through then Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TRC) Director General Antonio Ortiz, Deputy Director General Dennis Cunanan, and Chief Accountant Marivic Jover.
The scheme was reminiscent of the pork barrel scam cases involving alleged mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, who also supposedly worked with the same set of TRC officials in the earlier pork barrel scam cases filed at the Sandiganbayan.
The case of Ipong is also similar to the Napoles-related cases as a non-government organization was also the intended recipient of the funds.
Also included in the graft charge against Ipong is private individual Alfredo Ronquillo, president of Aaron Foundation Philippines, Incorporated.
The Ombudsman said Ipong and the TRC officials "unlawfully and criminally caused undue injury to the government and gave unwarranted benefits and advantage" to Ronquillo in the amount of at least 9.6 million.
The Ombudsman also said Ipong "unilaterally chose and endorsed Aaron Foundation as project partner for implementing livelihood projects for his constituents" and "without the benefit of public bidding."
Aside from the projects being non-existent, the Ombudsman also said Ronquillo failed to submit liquidation reports despite the order from the Commission on Audit. The Ombudsman also said their recommended bail is P30,000 for each accused.