‘Gringo’ Honasan brought up on graft charges over pork barrel anomaly

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By Macon Araneta | FilAm Star Correspondent

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has ordered the filing of two counts of graft against Sen. Gregorio Honasan II and nine others over the alleged multi-billion anomaly involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or the so-called pork barrel of lawmakers.

Morales said Honasan is set to face two counts of graft for violations of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

According to the Ombudsman’s in-depth investigation, the Department of Budget and Management in April 2012 released PHP 30 million of Honasan’s PDAF to the National Council of Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) as implementing agency.

The fund was meant to finance small and medium enterprise/livelihood projects for Muslim Filipinos in communities in the National Capital Region and Zambales.

Documents showed that Honasan in June 2012 endorsed Focus Development Goals Foundation, Inc. as non-government organization (NGO)-partner without complying with procurement regulations.

In its September 12 resolution, the Ombudsman said that the check dated May 30, 2012 and disbursement voucher approving the payment were prepared in favor of Focus even before the NGO was informed that it was qualified to undertake the project.

The check was also signed before the memorandum of agreement was signed by the Office of Senator Honasan, the NCMF and Focus.

The Ombudaman said Honasan authorized the release of funds to Focus, when he approved the payment in favor of Focus in two tranches amounting to PHP 29.1 million.

Honasan did not submit his counter-affidavit during the investigation, the Ombudsman said.

“The repeated illegal transfers of public funds to the NGO, resulted in the quantifiable, pecuniary losses to the Government, thus constituting undue injury within the context of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019,” Morales said.

Also facing charges with Honasan are Political Affairs/Project Coordinator Chief Michael Benjamin and NCMF executives, namely: Secretary Mehol Sadain, Acting Chief Accountant Fedelina Aldanese, Director III Galay Makalinggan, Chief Sania Busran, Acting Chief Aurora Aragon-Mabang, and Cashier Olga Galido, and private respondents Focus officers Giovanni Manuel Gaerlan and Salvador Gaerlan.

Meanwhile, the malversation, graft and bribery complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation against Honasan over the Janet Lim-Napoles pork barrel scam remains pending before the Ombudsman.

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