The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has maintained that the prosecution’s evidence in the case against former North Cotabato Rep. Gregorio Tocmo Ipong is strong enough to render a guilty verdict.
Ipong has been charged with violations of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code or malversation due to the reported misuse of his P4.9-million Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) on May 3, 2007.
The anti-graft court denied his motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence on Aug. 25 even as Ipong argued that the evidence presented by the prosecution does not prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
In his MR, Ipong said that the letter he made endorsing Aaron Foundation Philippines Inc. (AFPI) as the beneficiary of his PDAF was “purely recommendatory” and he should not be held accountable for the use and release of the PDAF because that accountability rests on the implementing agencies.
He also reiterated some of his earlier arguments such as the complaint against him being premature because there was no Notice of Disallowance when it was filed. Even until now, the accused said there is still no Notice of Disallowance.
However, the anti-graft court denied his MR. “If unrebutted, the same is prima facie sufficient to support a verdict of guilt against accused,” the Sandiganbayan said in a resolution.
Ipong is still free to file his demurrer to evidence. However, doing so means he is waiving his right to present evidence and the case will automatically be submitted for resolution.
The four-page resolution was written by Sixth Division Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez and concuured in by Associate Justices Kevin Narce Vivero Bayani Jacinto.