Ombudsman sacks 7 execs over Honasan’s pork barrel scam raps
The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed seven government officials from service for their involvement in the alleged misuse of Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II’s pork barrel funds.
In a statement on Thursday, the anti-graft office said it found the following officials guilty of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service— National Commission for Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) officials 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 Honasan’s political affairs chief Michael Benjamin.
Sadain, a former commissioner in the Commission on Elections, was appointed NCMF secretary in 2012 by former President Benigno Aquino III.
The court also ordered their perpetual disqualification from public office and the forfeiture of their retirement benefits. In case of separation from the service, the penalty is convertible into a fine equivalent to respondents’ salaries for one year.
They were among the accused in the graft indictment against Honasan by the Ombudsman.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales earlier ordered the filing of two counts of graft for violations of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The alleged misuse of public funds involved Honasan’s P30-million Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) released to the 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 dismissing the officials, the Ombudsman said the respondents “participated in the preparation, processing and approval of the Memorandum of Agreement and the PDAF documents governing the project implementation and fund releases to Focus Development Goals Foundation, as NGO partner.”
Morales said “the respondents were not performing ministerial acts when they signed the disbursement vouchers and checks for the release of funds to Focus.”
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 Ombudsman said Honasan authorized the release of funds to Focus when he approved the payment in favor of Focus in two tranches amounting to P29.1 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.
Honasan also faces a malversation, graft and bribery complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation before the Ombudsman over the Janet Lim-Napoles pork barrel scam.
Honasan, with colleague former Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, also faces an Ombudsman investigation for graft, malversation and falsification of public documents for his alleged involvement in a P220-million scam at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
Honasan was accused of requesting the release of P20 million from the DAR’s regular fund and of P100-million PDAF for livelihood projects that turned out to be non-existent. RAM/rga
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