NorthCot vice guv faces dismissal for PDAF misuse

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 20 Oct) – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has ordered the dismissal of former North Cotabato Representative and now Vice Governor Gregorio Ipong for alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of P10 million that was used to finance the projects of a non-government organization in 2007.

In her decision issued last October 18, Morales found Ipong administratively liable for “Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service.”

In a decision, it was stated that the Ombudsman’s investigators found out that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released P10 million to fund livelihood projects of Aaron Foundation Philippines Inc. (AFPI) with Technology and Livelihood Resource Center as implementing agency in the second district of North Cotabato, allegedly upon Ipong’s endorsement.

Ipong was mayor of the municipality of Makilala for 10 years, from 1988 to 1998, before he was elected representative of North Cotabato’s second district for three consecutive terms, from 1998 to 2007.

“Documents showed that Ipong indorsed and identified the Aaron Foundation Philippines, Inc. (AFPI) as NGO-partner with the Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC) as implementing agency. Field investigation, however, established that the P10M was released in full in a single tranche ‘despite the [AFPI’s] non-submission of any project implementation and disbursement reports’,” it said.

Also facing charges are AFPI’s Alfredo Ronquillo and TLRC executives such as Antonio Ortiz, Dennis Cunanan, and Marivic Jover, who was already also dismissed from the service after she was found guilty of “Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service.”

The Ombudsman claimed AFPI has a “dubious” track recording.

“Records showed that the NGO was not qualified to implement the livelihood project; it had no business permits from 2004 to 2009; its listed business address is located in a vacant lot used as equipment storage; the NGO’s capital stock is only P68,000.00; and that its net saving and net losses in 2006-2007 reflected the amounts of P750 and P5,840, respectively,” the Ombudsman noted.

Ipong countered by claiming that “the amount was coursed through AFPI based on the national 10-point agenda of the government at that time” and was not the in charge of the of subject funds but “a mere endorser.”

But Morales cited Supreme Court jurisprudence that stated that “under the Congressional Pork Barrel System, it is the legislator that exercises actual control and custody of the PDAF share allocated to him by appropriations statute.”

Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) states that public officials are prohibited from “causing any undue injury to any party, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.” (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)