Saturday, September 21, 2019

Ombudsman indicts Honasan, 9 others for pork scam

OMBUDSMAN Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the filing of charges against Senator Gregorio Honasan II and nine others for their alleged involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

In a statement, the Ombudsman said Honasan is set to face trial before the Sandiganbayan for two counts of violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

In its investigation, the Ombudsman found that in April 2012, the Department of Budget and Management released P30 million as part of the lawmaker's PDAF with the National Council of Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) as implementing agency. The fund was intended to finance small and medium enterprise/livelihood projects for the benefit of Muslim Filipinos in communities in the National Capital Region and Zambales.

"Documents clearly showed that in June 2012, Honasan indorsed Focus Development Goals Foundation, Inc. as NGO-partner without the benefit of compliance with procurement regulations," Morales said.

According to the Resolution approved on September 21, the check dated May 30, 2012 and disbursement voucher approving the payment "were prepared by public respondents in favor of Focus even before (1) the NGO was informed that it was found qualified to undertake the project on 04 June 2012; (2) the MOA was signed by the Office of Senator Honasan, NCMF and Focus; and (3) Honasan authorized the release of funds to Focus."

Honasan and others allegedly facilitated and approved the payment in favor of Focus via two tranches totaling P29.1 million.

Despite issuance of an order, Honasan failed to submit his counter-affidavit during the investigation, 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 RA 3019," she said.

Also facing graft charges before the Sandiganbayan 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. Likewise included in the Information are Focus officers Giovanni Manuel Gaerlan and Salvador Gaerlan. (SDR/Sunnex)
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