Sandiganbayan upholds PDAF conviction of former North Cotabato lawmaker

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 23 2022 12:04 PM | Updated as of Nov 23 2022 12:42 PM

The Sandiganbayan building in Quezon Cit on Feb. 19, 2020 Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File
The Sandiganbayan building in Quezon Cit on Feb. 19, 2020 Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The Sandiganbayan denied the motion for reconsideration of former North Cotabato Second District representative Gregorio Ipong, who was found guilty of graft and malversation in connection with his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in 2007.

The court's Sixth Division also denied the appeal of Ipong’s co-accused, Marivic Jover, former chief accountant of the defunct Technology Livelihood and Resource Center.

"The court maintains its ruling holding that the prosecution was able to prove the criminal culpability of both accused beyond reasonable doubt," the court said in a resolution penned by Associate Justice Kevin Narce Vivero, with the concurrence of Division Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez and Associate Justice Bayani Jacinto.

In the Sept. 13, 2022 decision of the court, Ipong, Jover, and former TLRC deputy director general Dennis Cunanan were sentenced to 6 to 10 years imprisonment for graft and 10 to 17 years plus a fine of P4.9 million each for malversation. 

Based on the investigation of the Office of the Ombudsman, Ipong funneled his PDAF allocation in 2007 to an unqualified non-government organization that did not submit implementation or disbursement reports.

During the trial, Ipong emphasized that his term ended in 2007, which prevented him from monitoring the implementation of his PDAF-funded project. Meanwhile, Jover insisted that her job was limited only to financial matters and not project implementation.

The Sandiganbayan stressed that Ipong and Jover did not raise any new, substantial, and compelling arguments for the court to exonerate them from the charges.

"To be clear, the court had discussed in length accused Ipong’s specific acts leading to his conviction in its assailed ruling and to discuss it again here serves no purpose," the court said.

The Supreme Court in 2013 declared the PDAF unconstitutional.

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