Gringo ordered arrested
The Sandiganbayan has ordered the arrest of Sen. Gregorio Honasan II a week after he became the fourth senator to be charged for the alleged misuse of pork barrel funds.
The antigraft court’s Second Division issued two warrants of arrest dated Aug. 7 against Honasan for two counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Since graft is a bailable offense, Honasan can avoid the fate that befell former Senators Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada, and Juan Ponce Enrile, who were detained in 2014 for the more severe offense of plunder.
But at press time, Honasan and his dismissed political affairs chief Michael Benjamin had yet to post the P60,000 bail for two counts of graft.
The Sandiganbayan Second Division office closed on time at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, without Honasan having stepped foot in the court to post bail.
Sheriff and security services division head Albert dela Cruz said the warrants had been transmitted to the National Bureau of Investigation and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
Dela Cruz said it was up to the NBI and the CIDG to decide when the warrants will be served.
In a statement issued by his office on Thursday, Honasan said he would fight the charges filed against him in connection with the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam.
“I am completely innocent of the charges against me,” Honasan said.
“All my life I have fought everything I [have been] accused of, and I will continue to do so,” Honasan said.
Affirming the sufficiency of the Ombudsman’s charges, the court said it found “probable cause to hold the accused in this case for trial and issue a warrant of arrest.”
The court reached this conclusion after reviewing the Ombudsman’s Aug. 9, 2016, resolution and April 12, 2017, order which directed the filing of the charges on Aug. 1.
The warrants were signed by Associate Justices Oscar C. Herrera Jr, Michael Frederick L. Musngi and Lorifel L. Pahimna.
Only four former members of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF)—Secretary Mehol Sadain, acting chief accountant Fedelina Aldanese, cashier Olga Galido and acting management audit division chief Aurora Aragon-Mabang—posted bail at press time.
Honasan and Benjamin’s other coaccused who have not posted bail were former NCMF director Galay Makalinggan (now reassigned to the regional office in Cotabato), as well as Focus on Development Goals Foundation Inc. officials Giovanni Manuel Gaerlan and Salvador Gaerlan.
The cases arose from alleged irregularities in Honasan’s endorsement of Focus as the partner nongovernment organization (NGO) for livelihood projects funded by P29.1-million allocations from his priority development assistance fund (PDAF) in 2012.
Honasan’s selection of the NGO was allegedly done without the benefit of public bidding, in violation of various procurement rules.
Other PDAF-related cases
The NCMF as implementing agency of the livelihood projects processed the payment of the PDAF funds to Focus allegedly “with unusual accommodation and haste.”
The projects were meant to benefit Muslim communities in the National Capital Region and Zambales province.
This was not the only PDAF-related case hounding Honasan.
Still pending with the Office of the Ombudsman is a graft, malversation and direct bribery complaint for allegedly receiving P1.75 million in kickbacks in exchange for diverting his PDAF allocations to Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc., an NGO controlled by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles. —WITH A REPORT FROM CHRISTINE O. AVENDAÑO
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