Honasan charged over ‘pork’ misuse

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Office of the Ombudsman has found probable cause to file graft charges at the Sandiganbayan against Sen. Gregorio Honasan 2nd and nine others for their alleged involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or “pork barrel” scam in 2012.

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Also to be charged are former Political Affairs/Project Coordinator Chief Michael Benjamin, former National Council of Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Secretary Mehol Sadain and other NCMF executives Fedelina Aldanese, Galay Makalinggan, Sania Busran, Aurora Aragon-Mabang and Olga Galido.

Giovanni Manuel Gaerlan and Salvador Gaerlan, of the non-government organization (NGO) Focus Development Goals Foundation, Inc. (Focus), will also be indicted.

In a statement issued on Monday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said her office found that the Department of Budget and Management released P30 million as part of Honasan’s PDAF in April 2012 with the NCMF as implementing agency.

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

Honasan allegedly endorsed Focus as NGO-partner “without the benefit of compliance with procurement regulations” in June 2012.

The check dated May 30, 2012 and disbursement voucher approving the supposed 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,” the Office of the Ombudsman said.

It alleged that Honasan and the others facilitated and approved the supposed payment in favor of Focus via two tranches totaling P29.1 million.

“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.
Honasan failed to submit his counter-affidavit during investigation despite the issuance of an order.

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