Court denies Honasan’s bid to quash raps

The Sandiganbayan has denied the appeal of Sen. Gregorio Honasan II to dismiss his 29.1-million pork barrel case and set aside its finding of sufficient grounds to try him for graft.

In a six-page resolution dated Oct. 27, the antigraft court’s Second Division sustained its Sept. 22 ruling against Honasan and reiterated that motions for judicial determination of probable cause were prohibited at this stage in the legal process.

On Sept. 15, Honasan moved to quash the warrant of arrest against him, defer his arraignment and to either dismiss the graft case or to order a reinvestigation.

After the court ruled on Sept. 22 to throw out his motion, Honasan sought a reconsideration, saying the court had misinterpreted his earlier motion.

The court, however, said it “correctly read and interpreted movant’s motion as one for judicial determination or redetermination of probable cause.”

The court said although his Sept. 15 motion supposedly sought to invalidate the Aug. 7 warrant for his arrest, Honasan really wanted the court to review the Ombudsman’s findings.

“Very clearly, too, movant is now actually asking the Court to again make a judicial determination or redetermination of probable cause and nothing more,” according to the Oct. 27 resolution penned by Associate Justice Oscar C. Herrera Jr. and concurred in by Associate Justices Michael Frederick L. Musngi and Lorifel L. Pahimna.

Honasan’s motion was among pleadings prohibited by the Revised Guidelines for Continuous Trial of Criminal Cases issued by the Supreme Court to hasten court proceedings.

In a separate resolution also on Oct. 27, the Sandiganbayan denied the motion to quash filed by Honasan’s coaccused, former National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Secretary Mehol Sadain, Director III Galay Makalinggan, and acting chief Aurora Aragon-Mabang.

It said the charges sufficiently stated the allegations needed to constitute a graft case for which they should be tried.

The case arose from Honasan’s endorsement of Focus as the nongovernment partner organization in the livelihood projects for Muslim communities funded by P29.1 million from his Priority Development Assistance Fund in 2012.

Honasan selected Focus allegedly without public bidding, violating various procurement rules.

The NCMF as implementing agency of the projects processed the payment of the funds to Focus allegedly “with unusual accommodation and haste.”

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