Sandiganbayan enters not guilty plea for Gringo Honasan
Sen. Gregorio Honasan II refused to enter a plea on Friday after the Sandiganbayan denied his motion to quash the graft case and postpone his arraignment on charges he misused P30 million of his pork barrel allocations five years ago.
According to procedure, the antigraft court’s Second Division chair, Associate Justice Oscar Herrera Jr., entered a “not guilty” plea on the senator’s behalf after the latter’s lawyer, Dennis Manalo, advised Honasan not to make a plea.
“It’s in the court already so my counsel will take care of it,” Honasan said after he walked out of the courtroom.
Manalo had tried but failed to convince the magistrate to defer Honasan’s arraignment on account of a pending omnibus motion to reverse the arrest order against him and to dismiss the case or order its reinvestigation.
Instead, Herrera denied the motion to quash the case and the petition for reinvestigation in open court, saying the first one was a prohibited pleading and the second one should have been filed within five days of Honasan’s arrest.
“We are not prejudging the case against the senator. I’d like to believe he still enjoys presumption of innocence,” Herrera said.
Last month, Honasan was charged with two counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act over irregularities when he coursed his PDAF allocations through the National Commission for Muslim Filipinos for livelihood projects for Muslim communities in Metro Manila and Zambales.
He posted bail of P60,000 at a court in Biñan, Laguna province, on Aug. 11.
Three of Honasan’s former colleagues, former Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, were also indicted on the more serious case of plunder in connection with the pork barrel scam.
The case against Honasan stemmed from alleged irregularities in his endorsement of Focus as partner nongovernment organization for projects funded by P29.1 million from his PDAF in 2012.
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